MEDIA CONTACT: Kristin Samuelson at 847-491-4888 or [email protected]

FOR RELEASE: Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Colorectal expert on updated screening guidelines: ‘Every patient's risk is different’

New colorectal cancer screening guidelines must be used in concert with a patient-specific plan

CHICAGO --- The American Cancer Society recently updated its screening guidelines for colon and rectal cancer to recommend screening people at average risk for colorectal cancer at 45 years old instead of 50.

Dr. Rajesh Keswani, a Northwestern Medicine gastroenterologist and associate professor of gastroenterology and hepatology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, said “the previously established screening age of 50 was the threshold in which physicians felt that the benefits of testing for colorectal cancer far outweighed the risks of tests such as colonoscopy” but that it’s “understandable that there has been a reappraisal of the appropriate age to begin screening because  physicians have known for some time that patients are developing colorectal cancer at a younger ages.”

Keswani also is the medical director of quality for the Northwestern Medicine Digestive Health Center. He is available to speak to reporters about the new guidelines and can be reached by phone at (650) 575-0647or by e-mail at[email protected].

“My two take-home points from this development are that 1) all recommendations need to be individualized - every patient's risk is different and we need to use guidelines in concert with patient factors to develop a patient-specific colon cancer screening plan,” Keswani said. “And 2) When we offer a test like colonoscopy that is highly dependent on provider skill, it is not just getting a test at a certain age, it is about also ensuring that our physicians are providing the highest-quality colonoscopy care to reduce the burden of colorectal cancer.”

“Providers need to take into account these new recommendations along with multiple other societies that weigh in on colon cancer prevention,” he said. “Currently, most other societies still recommend screening beginning at age 50 for average risk individuals and 45 for African-American individuals -- these varying recommendations need to be harmonized.”

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