New Guidelines on Colorectal Screening
A government task force has recommended stopping colorectal cancer screening at age 75 for people who have been screened regularly and have no evidence of disease. It also advised that no one over 85 be screened, updating a 2002 report that recommended regular screening for everyone over 50.
The task force still advises regular colonoscopies, sigmoidoscopies and fecal occult blood tests beginning at 50. But it concluded that after 75, the risks of the procedures begin to outweigh the benefits for most patients. After 85, they concluded, there is good evidence that screening is ineffective in extending life for anyone.
The group, the United States Preventive Services Task Force, is an independent panel of experts in primary care medicine. It based its recommendations on an extensive review of the literature and a computer simulation that incorporated the best available data on mortality, screening techniques, screening intervals, and stop and start ages.
“By age 75, if you haven’t found anything, it’s unlikely that colorectal cancer will be a cause of death,” said Ann G. Zauber, a biostatistician at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer and the lead author of one of three papers on the subject published online Monday in The Annals of Internal Medicine. Still, she said, “an exceedingly healthy 75-year-old with a long life expectancy should discuss further screening.”
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