Cancer screening: Men in particular should have colonoscopy from the age of 50
Statutory health insurers in Germany are entitled to colonoscopy for the early detection of colon cancer from the age of 55. However, the results of a new study now suggest that the examination is routinely useful from the age of 50, especially for men.
One of the most common cancers
Around 26,000 people die from colon cancer in Germany every year. To protect yourself, you should have regular checkups from a certain age. This is especially important if the family has had colon cancer cases. But when should you have a colonoscopy? A new study suggests lowering the age limit from 55 to 50 years.
Colonoscopy can save lives
Health experts repeatedly point out why colonoscopy is so important. It is extremely effective in cancer prevention and can save lives.
In 2002, preventive colonoscopy was included in the cancer screening program of the statutory health insurance companies. Since then, insured persons have been entitled to the examination from the age of 55, in which any pre-cancerous stages can be removed immediately.
The number of new cases of colorectal cancer has since declined significantly - and only in the age group to which the screening is offered, reports the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) in a current announcement.
Cancer screening from 50 years
“In the first ten years, more than four million people participated in preventive colonoscopy. According to our calculations, this prevented around 180,000 cases of colon cancer, ”said Hermann Brenner from the DKFZ.
The Heidelberg prevention expert and colleagues are looking for ways to improve this rate even further.
As the report says, colon cancer is extremely rare in people without family stress before the age of 50. After that, however, the disease rate rises continuously. National and international guidelines therefore recommend cancer prevention from the age of 50.
"By working with the AOK Baden-Württemberg, Bosch BKK and MEDI Baden-Württemberg, we were able for the first time to check with a large group of people what results can be achieved with the offer of preventive colonoscopy from the age of 50," explained Brenner .
Colon cancer precursors discovered and removed
According to the information, a total of 84,726 insured persons of the AOK Baden-Württemberg between the ages of 50 and 54 received a personal invitation to an early colonoscopy in 2014 and 2015.
Accordingly, only people who had not had colonoscopy in previous years, who did not develop cancer and who were enrolled in the AOK family doctor or specialist program were invited.
In a total of 1,396 examinations, colorectal cancer or colorectal cancer, so-called advanced adenomas, were discovered and removed in 6.8 percent of the cases.
Clear difference between the sexes
According to the researchers, the study revealed a clear gender difference: While only 4.5 percent of women in this age group found colorectal cancer or pre-cancer, it was almost twice as common in men at 8.6 percent.
That is, doctors found suspicious tissue changes in every twelfth examination of men between 50 and 54. In contrast, 22 colonoscopies would have to be performed in women of this age group in order to discover a relevant finding.
“This makes colon cancer and its precursors even more common among men in this age group than among 55 to 69-year-old women, for whom colonoscopy is a natural part of cancer screening. This is a compelling reason to routinely offer the age limit for preventive colonoscopy, at least in men, from the age of 50, ”said Brenner. (ad)