Colorectal cancer is the second leading cancer killer in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The National Cancer Institute estimates that 140,250 people will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer in 2018 and that 50,630 will die from it—but it's also highly preventable with proper screening.
Because early detection is key, the American Cancer Society is now recommending screenings begin at age 45—five years sooner than the current recommendation of age 50.
Early diagnosis is often challenging for young people, Cohen says. “In an older person with diarrhea and weight loss of nine to 10 pounds, a gastroenterologist might do a screen for colon cancer and a work-up,” says Cohen, adding that a younger patient would be told to add more fiber to their diet to address what the doctor assumes is a more benign digestive condition.