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Friday, March 24, 2023

45 is the New 50

Posted By: Advancing Care

A study released recently by the American Cancer Society reports colon cancer in the under 55 age category is on the rise. This concerning news is leading gastroenterology specialists such as Edward Lebovics, MD, Section Chief of Gastroenterology at Westchester Medical Center, to recommend scheduling your first colon cancer screening by the age of 45, five years sooner than prior guidelines.

“Without further study it is hard to identify why colon cancer diagnoses are on the rise in this age category, but it is a worrisome trend,” said Lebovics.

Edward Lebovics
Edward Lebovics, MD, Section Chief of Gastroenterology

Especially, Dr. Lebovics said, since colon cancers are being diagnosed at later stages when they are harder to treat. Sixty percent of new colorectal cancers were diagnosed at advanced stages in 2019 compared with 52 percent in the mid-2000s, the Wall Street Journal reported.

“Even if a person is under the age of 45, if there are symptoms such as passing blood or a change in bowel movements or a family history, they should be tested earlier," said Dr. Lebovics.

“What we do know is the earlier we catch colon cancer, the better," said Dr. Lebovics.

But what type of screening is best?

Dr. Lebovics said while “one size does not fit all,” the traditional colonoscopy still is the gold standard when it comes to detection, plus areas of concern found during a colonoscopy can be removed, all in the same procedure.

Marketed screening products that detect cancers through DNA in stool samples are more convenient, but not as effective overall, said Dr. Lebovics.

“While these screenings are safe, available and do not require preparation or sedation, they are not ideal for detecting pre-cancerous polyps. If a growth is suggested by the DNA stool screening, you would have to undergo a colonoscopy anyway to have it removed.”

Dr. Lebovics said an alternative test, CT colonography, may supply a happy medium in the future, but at this point its usefulness is limited. Even though the screening is non-invasive, and no sedation is needed, you would have to prepare for the test and, just as with the stool tests, you would have to have a colonoscopy anyway if polyps are detected. Insurance coverage options are limited as well.

Don’t Wait – Schedule Your Colon Cancer Screening

The bottom line: “No matter which method you choose, any screening test is better than no test," said Dr. Lebovics.“So, what are you waiting for?”

Colonoscopy screenings are performed in Westchester Medical Center’s new endoscopy suite where physicians specializing in gastroenterology and liver diseases perform procedures that help diagnose conditions of the esophagus, stomach, colon, biliary tract and pancreas.

Whether you need an endoscopic procedure for a recommended annual screening, confirmation of a condition diagnosis or disease therapy, referring physicians or community members seeking care should call 914.533.4111 to schedule an appointment.