Colon Cancer can be preventable with early and regular screenings, and on May 18, 2021 the age recommendations for colon cancer screening were lowered from age 50 to 45. This change provides the opportunity for adults with no family history of colon cancer to be screened at age 45, instead of waiting until they are 50 years of age.
As reported by the Prevent Cancer Foundation on May 18th, 2021, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) finalized their new recommendations for colorectal cancer screening, recommending colon cancer screening for people of average risk ages 45-49. Under the provisions of the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies to include the Indian Health Service are required to fully cover any screening or early detection services for individuals in this age group age 45 – 49, those ages 50 – 75, and individuals under age 45 with a documented family history or who are at increased risk for a colon cancer diagnosis.
Why are these changes important, and why should you share this information with your friends and relatives? Colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer, and cancer death among Native Americans. As briefed by the Indian Health Service, a study of colon cancer rates indicated that over a 12-year period the overall incidence of colon cancer decreased by 12% for the general population, and during this same period the incidence rate among Native Americans increased by 38%. Native Americans are at increased risk for colon cancer, however, with early screening colon cancer can be prevented.
In the early stages colon cancer generally has no symptoms, and it can be detected with one of the many screening tools available from your provider or tribal health center. These screening tools include at-home/office tests (FIT/FOBT/Cologuard) or scheduled procedures with a preprocedure bowl preparation such as a colonoscopy or flexible sigmoidoscopy can detect cells or polyps in the colon or rectum. Detecting the cells/colon polyps in the precancerous stage can prevent a future cancer diagnosis. Finding cancer cells/polyps in the localized stage when it hasn’t spread beyond the colon or rectum has resulted in a 90% survival rate after 5 years, unlike those who are diagnosed at later stages when the cancer has spread beyond the colon or rectum. Those who are diagnosed late stage have a 12% survival rate after 5 years. This information makes it more important that you reach out to your provider today and ask to be screened for colon cancer.
Call your tribal health center or care provider and ask which screening method is best for you. If you are looking for a tribal health center in Michigan you can locate them at www.itcmi.org/healthcenters.
JAMA | US Preventative Task Force | Recommendation Statement
Screening for Colorectal Cancer US Preventative Services Task Force Recommendation Statement
Final Recommendation Statement
Screening for Colorectal Cancer
May 18, 2021
CDC: Cancer in American Indians and Alaska Natives in the United States