MIAMI – Screening for colon cancer should begin earlier, at age 45 instead of 50, due to an uptick in colorectal tumors among younger people, the American Cancer Society said on Wednesday. The new guidelines came after research showed a 51 percent increase in colorectal cancer among people under 50 since 1994, and an accompanying rise in death rates. "When we began this guideline update, we were initially focused on whether screening should begin earlier in racial subgroups with higher colorectal cancer incidence, which some organizations already recommend," said Richard Wender, chief cancer control officer for the American Cancer Society. Groups known to suffer disproportionately high rates of colon cancer include African-Americans, Alaska Natives, and American Indians. "But as we saw data pointing to a persistent trend of increasing colorectal cancer incidence in younger adults, including American Cancer Society research that indicated this effect would carry forward with increasing age, we decided to reevaluate the age to initiate screening in all U.S. adults."
When Crawford Clay discovered blood on his shorts at the end a routine run in the spring of 2014, he did not know the stains were a symptom of a condition that also afflicted his family. His doctor said it was likely hemorrhoids, but as a precaution, the physician scheduled a colonoscopy. The exam revealed Clay had rectal cancer. He was 43, seven years younger than the recommended age for colon screenings and completely in the dark about the symptoms associated with the condition. Clay didn't know that his grandfather had the disease or that he would be diagnosed in the same week as his dad.
Doctors are hopeful using artificial intelligence can be a better way to detect and prevent colon cancer. It's a combination of traditional colonoscopy and computers that can show doctors colon polyps they might otherwise miss, CBS2's Dr. Max Gomez reported Wednesday. With colon cancer on both his mother and father's side, John Gifford said he diligent about getting a colonoscopy every five years. So when his doctor offered a more accurate test -- using AI -- Gifford immediately said yes. "We're living in a tech world and so this seems like the next obvious evolution," Gifford said. The AI colonoscopy, which was developed by doctors at the University of California-Irvine, was designed to spot polyps, where all colorectal cancers begin.
Today, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized marketing of the GI Genius, the first device that uses artificial intelligence (AI) based on machine learning to assist clinicians in detecting lesions (such as polyps or suspected tumors) in the colon in real time during a colonoscopy. "Artificial intelligence has the potential to transform health care to better assist health care providers and improve patient care. When AI is combined with traditional screenings or surveillance methods, it could help find problems early on, when they may be easier to treat," said Courtney H. Lias, Ph.D. acting director of the GastroRenal, ObGyn, General Hospital and Urology Devices Office in the FDA's Center for Devices and Radiological Health. "Studies show that during colorectal cancer screenings, missed lesions can be a problem even for well-trained clinicians. With the FDA's authorization of this device today, clinicians now have a tool that could help improve their ability to detect gastrointestinal lesions they may have missed otherwise."
A study released by the American Cancer Society (ACS) Tuesday shows a steady rise in colorectal cancer (also known as colon cancer) among young people, according to NBC News. Colon cancer has seen a decline in reported cases overall, but reasons for a rise among young white individuals remain unknown to researchers. The study claims that reported cases have increased by 1.6 percent annually in adults younger than 50. This finding can be traced back to 2004, which is when the first spike in colon cancer among individuals under 54 reportedly occurred. However, the study adds, "the increase in young adults followed a decade of rapid declines during the late 1970s and early 1980s."