Lower Recommended Colorectal Cancer Screening Age

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The United States has been proudly recognizing March as Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month since 2000. We have come a long way in creating a general awareness that if you are above the age of 50, it is recommended that you are screened for colorectal cancer. Symptoms are often unnoticeable until you reach a higher stage of colorectal cancer, making screening one of the best resources we have on catching this deadly disease early enough. However, it has come to our attention that in today's world, 50 years old may now be too late.

On February 28, 2017, a study that was published through the Journal of the National Cancer Institute stated "As nearly one-third of rectal cancer patients are younger than age 55 years, screening initiation before age 50 years should be considered."Although colorectal cancer rates have generally declined over the past several decades for Americans over the age of 55 (which we believe is due to the awareness of the population to be screened), the incidence is rising among individuals younger than 50 years old, for reasons that are not definite within science yet. The study also states "Compared with adults born circa 1950, those born circa 1990 have double the risk of colon cancer (IRR = 2.40, 95% CI = 1.11 to 5.19) and quadruple the risk of rectal cancer".

As our lifestyles have changed over the past decades, we believe that the recommended guidelines on when to be screened for colorectal cancer should be reconsidered. We believe that now is a good of time as ever, with the health care in our country being reassessed, to change the recommended screening guidelines to an age below 50 years.

From personal experience, both of the authors of this petition have prematurely lost a parent from colorectal cancer. Juliana Riordan's father was diagnosed with stage 4 colorectal cancer at the age of 48. He passed away on June 9, 2015 at the age of 51 when she was 21 years old. Matthew Nolan's mother was diagnosed with stage 4 colorectal cancer at the age of 41. She passed away on August 16, 2002 at the age of 42 when he was 7 years old. We believe that with a recommended screening age younger than 50, both of their lives could have been saved.

We would like to prevent future families from the heartache we have endured, simply due to something that could have been caught earlier if conditions had allowed. If colorectal cancer is caught at an earlier stage, the chance of survival increases remarkably. Unfortunately, this was not the case for either of our families and we would like to see this change in the near future.

Please consider signing our petition and helping us in our attempt to lower the recommended age of screening below 50 years of age. Our families, along with the many others that have lost their loved ones prematurately from colorectal cancer, thank you.

Juliana Riordan and Matthew Nolan (Auburn, NY)

Reference: Rebecca L. Siegel, Stacey A. Fedewa, William F. Anderson, Kimberly D. Miller, Jiemin Ma, Philip S. Rosenberg, Ahmedin Jemal; Colorectal Cancer Incidence Patterns in the United States, 1974–2013. J Natl Cancer Inst 2017; 109 (8): djw322. doi: 10.1093/jnci/djw322

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