New study suggests lowering colorectal cancer screening age by 5 years

Dr. Jennifer Ashton discusses what to know about a new study that suggests lowering the age to have a colorectal cancer screening from 50 to 45.
2:19 | 07/22/19

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Transcript for New study suggests lowering colorectal cancer screening age by 5 years
We have a "Gma" health alert about colorectal cancer. A new study supports changing the age for first time screening from 50 to 45 and Dr. Jen Ashton here to walk us through. Break down the new study. We reported it. There's good news, bad news. Overall the rates for colorectal cancer are dropping except in people diagnosed under the age of 50. That rate is going up. So this study appeared in the journal "Cancer." Very reputable and they found that, in fact, yes, there are about 12% of all the new diagnoses are occurring in the younger ages group and when diagnosed in a younger person they tend to be later stage cancers with lymph node involvement meaning more aggressive, more difficult to treat, more deadly. There's been some controversy over whether to do early testing? To understand that controversy we have to really go back to what makes a good screening test. For something to be accepted as a good screening test, it needs to be widely available and needs to be inexpensive. Cost is always a factor. It needs to be looking for a disease that's common and out there in the population and most importantly, it needs to have shown that if you detect that disease in this case colorectal cancer that you can hopefully save lives by catching it early. So, yes, on paper this meets all those criteria but I want to be clear we're talking about for the average risk person, there are some people that should be screened early. No doubt about it, that is not controversial and that basically involves people who have a family history, people who have certain polyp conditions or have been treated with abdominal or pelvic radiation in the past. Certain inflammatory bowel conditions, these people should be screened early. They should talk to their health care provider. If people are at risk what, can they do? This is important for everyone regardless of their age, diet, very, very important in lowering the risk of colorectal cancer. Eating a diet high in fruits, vegetable, also minimizing your consumption of red meat, keeping a healthy weight, exercising, not smoking, consuming alcohol in mod Reagan and the last one, also controversial, there have been a lot of data that shows that some people when they take aspirin it can lower their risk of colorectal cancer. It's not a despread recommendation for the general population, but, again, for people at higher risk they should talk to their doctors. Good advice. Thanks, Jen.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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