Why do recommendations for colon cancer and prostate cancer screening tend to start around age 50?

William Nelson, M.D., Ph.D.

William Nelson, M.D., Ph.D.

“If you look at the overall incidence of cancer in the U.S., 80% of all cancers are diagnosed in people older than 60, and 30% of cancers are diagnosed in people older than 80, so in general, more cancers appear in people as they get older,” explains William G. Nelson, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins. “Screening men in their 50s for colorectal and prostate cancers makes sense because that’s when these diseases generally start to appear. There are certain populations of men who are more prone to develop these cancers. Many believe African-American men might be better starting screening at age 45 because their risk of dying of prostate cancer is about 1.7 times the risk of Caucasians. Men with a strong family history of prostate cancer also should consider PSA screening before age 50.”

Listen to the Cancer News Review podcast with Dr. Nelson.

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