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45 is the new 50

45 is the new 50

If you’re a fan of Marvel movies, you were probably shocked to learn that Chadwick Boseman died of colon cancer last year1. He was only 43. 

Over 50,000 people in the U.S. die of colon cancer each year2. While each death is a tragedy, a greater tragedy is that many of these deaths could be prevented through colon cancer screening. 

Polyps, which are growths in the colon’s lining, can turn into cancer over time. If caught early enough, a gastroenterologist can remove polyps, which decreases the risk of colon cancer.

People under 50 - like Chadwick Boseman - are increasingly being diagnosed with colon cancer3. As a result of this trend, the American Cancer Society recommended lowering the age to start colorectal cancer screening from 50 to 45. The United States Preventive Services Task Force officially adopted this recommendation in May of 2021. This means that if you are 45, it is time to get screened for colon cancer. If you have a family history of colon cancer or colon polyps, you will likely need to be screened for colon cancer before you turn 45.

You have several options for colon cancer screening. You may have seen ads for stool tests like FIT and Cologuard™. However, a colonoscopy is the only option that allows your doctor to find and remove polyps in the same procedure.

During a colonoscopy, your doctor inserts a camera attached to a long flexible tube (a colonoscope) through the anus to examine the colon. Your doctor searches carefully for polyps. If polyps are found, they can be removed with special tools. Several types of polyps exist. Some types usually don’t turn into cancer, while others are more likely to progress to cancer. These precancerous polyps are what we want to find and remove to protect you from developing colon cancer.

If you haven’t been screened for colon cancer and you are older than 45, it’s time to talk to your primary care or family medicine doctor to get screened!


  1. Pearson, R. (2020, August 29). Chadwick boseman, who Embodied BLACK Icons, dies of cancer. AP NEWS.

  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (n.d.). USCS data visualizations - CDC. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

  3. July 20, 2021, June 25, 2021, & May 27, 2021. (n.d.). Colorectal cancer rising among young adults. National Cancer Institute.

  4. Colorectal cancer: Screening. Recommendation: Colorectal Cancer: Screening | United States Preventive Services Taskforce. (2021, May 18).

Rajiv Perinbasekar, M.D.

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