Hattiesburg doctor explains new colon screening guidelines

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - The American Cancer Society has new guidelines for colorectal cancer screenings. This change comes as younger adults are now being diagnosed with the second-leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States, colon cancer.

It's now advised Americans as young as 45 years old undergo a colorectal cancer screening, down from the recommended age of 50. Hattiesburg G.I. Associates Gastroenterologist Dr. William Farmer said that is good news.

"I think it is a good idea to screen everybody earlier than age 50, because we do find a fair number of advanced polyps and colon cancers in patients that we see for other reasons than just screening in their 40s," Farmer said.

He explained smoking and eating a high-fat diet puts anyone at risk for colon cancer, and that's a lifestyle mainly seen in a younger generation.

"As we get into the fast food generation, a lot of these kids have been raised on fast food and a lot of the fatty food that we eat," he said.
Farmer said there can be no symptoms of colon cancer, so it can be hard to know what to look out for. But he said if you notice these signs talk to your doctor immediately.

"Certainly bleeding, that is the big red flag when you talk about colon cancer," he said. "Bleeding when you go to the bathroom. Other things though, unexplained weight loss, unexplained changes in your bowel habits, unexplained abdominal pain."

Farmer's message to younger adults: pay attention to your body.

"Since the guidelines have been lowered to 45, then it just means that we're finding colon cancers, advanced colon polyps, in people that are younger than 50," Farmer said.

If you want to know more about the new guidelines, colon cancer, or to schedule a screening you can contact Hattiesburg G.I. Associates through the link below.