AMSURG, a division of Envision Healthcare and a national leader in gastrointestinal care, is seeing an increase in colorectal cancer diagnoses and encouraging Americans to receive timely, appropriate screenings and not delay care.
AMSURG data reveals that, in 2021, there was a measurable increase in advanced stage colorectal cancer and precancerous growths, called polyps, in adults of all ages compared to 2020. This increase might be due to patients delaying screenings and care during the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2020, AMSURG reported more than 200,000 patients had missed their colonoscopies since the start of the pandemic.
“Any increase in colorectal cancer is very concerning,” said Regina DeHart, colon cancer survivor and Vice President at AMSURG. “Having been diagnosed with colon cancer at 42, I know how important it is to have timely screenings. If the pre-cancerous or cancerous polyps are removed in time, there is a greater chance of surviving. Any delay in routine screenings – even by a year – can make a difference in saving someone’s life. People can thrive after a CRC diagnosis, but timing matters.”
Although colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in the U.S., it is one of the most preventable cancers. As a leader in CRC screening, detection and prevention, AMSURG has been educating the public about the importance of timely screenings based on an individual’s age and risk factors. De-identified data from nearly 3 million colonoscopies performed at AMSURG ambulatory surgery centers supports recent recommendations to lower the first-time screening age from 50 to 45 for people at average risk.
Based on 2021 AMSURG data, people were on average 57.6 years old when they had their first screening colonoscopy. In 2016, the average person receiving a first-time screening was 58.5 years old – which was before the American Cancer Society and the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force released guidance changing the age to 45.
“While the U.S. healthcare system has made progress in lowering the recommended screening age, too many people are starting their screenings too late. A lot of work remains to educate people and encourage them to begin screening at 45,” said John Popp, MD, Medical Director for AMSURG. “Receiving timely and routine colonoscopies can save your life. If you are 45 or older, you should be screened. If you have a family history of colorectal cancer or are experiencing symptoms, such as altered bowel habits or blood in the stool, talk to your physician about a colonoscopy regardless of your age. In addition, a positive at-home test should be evaluated with a follow-up colonoscopy promptly. When a colonoscopy is delayed – especially after a positive at-home test – there is a greater chance an individual will have more advanced cancer.”
A colonoscopy is the most thorough screening test. It enables physicians to examine the entire length of the colon to identify and remove polyps before they pose a greater health risk to patients. Individuals should consult a physician if they are experiencing any signs or symptoms or have questions about when they should be screened.
To learn more about colorectal cancer or where to schedule a colonoscopy, visit StopColonCancerNow.com.