Colon cancer: should it be detected before the age of 50?

Colon cancer kills 18,000 people a year in France, 5 times more than road accidents. According to the researchers Massachusetts General Hospital, encouraging women to get screened before age 50 would significantly reduce the number of deaths.

Responsible for nearly 18,000 deaths per year in France, colorectal cancer (or colon cancer) is the second deadliest cancer. But it is also a cancer that is curable 9 times out of 10 if detected in time. This is why, every year, men and women aged 50 to 74 are invited to do an immunological test to detect any traces of blood in the stool. Indeed, only screening can detect the disease at an early stage. It is also thanks to screening that it is possible to identify a polyp in the intestine and remove it before it develops into cancer.

However, a new study from Massachusetts General Hospital (Boston), published in the journal Jama oncology, suggests that it is before the age of 50 that women should be encouraged to be screened, to significantly reduce the number of deaths from colorectal cancer. After conducting a cohort study of 111,800 American women in 14 states, they found that getting screened for cancer between ages 45 and 49 was associated with a greater reduction in absolute risk of colorectal cancer through age 60. compared to screening between 50 and 54 years.

The researchers point out in passing that colon cancer develops slowly and without symptoms from small lesions called polyps that it is important to detect before they turn into malignant tumors. However, due to our increasingly sedentary lifestyle and a diet rich in ultra-processed products and too low in fibre, colorectal cancer is appearing earlier and earlier. “Early screening would also be valid for men, but our study was only interested in women,” explains Dr. Andrew Chan, gastroenterologist and epidemiologist at Massachusetts General Hospital and lead author of the study.

Source : Age at Initiation of Lower Gastrointestinal Endoscopy and Colorectal Cancer Risk Among US WomenJama Oncology, mai 2022

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