PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Colonoscopies need to start earlier, according to the American Cancer Society.
The recommendation is for anyone at average risk and it is in response to an increase in colorectal cancer rates in younger and middle aged adults.
Colorectal cancer among people under 50 has shot up 51 percent since 1994, while at the same time rates steadily declined in people over 55 because of colonoscopies.
“We can find polops and lesions at a very early stage before they become anything serious, before they become cancer, and literally, we can nip it in the bud,” explained Dr. Avi Galler, a Virtua colon and rectal surgeon.
Dr. Galler is applauding the American Cancer Society’s new recommendation that people start screening at 45 instead of 50.
“I think this is a very good move by the society. It’s gonna help save lives,” Dr. Galler said.
Sandy Kyrkostas was just 47 when he was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer that had spread to his liver.
“When they tell you and your wife when you have two young children, ‘Get your life in order,’ that’s a scary, that’s a scary point,” Kyrkostas said.
Two different doctors gave him months to live.
“I wasn’t supposed to get colon cancer, no one in my family has colon cancer,” Kyrkostas said.
With no family history and symptoms that started only weeks before his diagnosis, cases like Sandy’s are on the rise.
After 12 rounds of chemotherapy and nine surgeries, Kyrkostas is now disease free.
He wishes he’d been screened at 45.
“You need to check for colon cancer, because it’s an easy diagnosis. It’s a quick fix, if you catch it early enough,” Kyrkostas said.
Colon cancer is typically considered a preventable cancer, if caught in time.
The new guidelines also call for, in some cases, to continue screening through age 85, rather than stopping at age 75.
These new recommendations are only for people who don’t have an increased risk .
It is always best to check with your doctor, if you’re not sure.