Delay in Colorectal Cancer Diagnosis Affects Survival Rate in 9 out of 10 Cases

Colorectal cancer is the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States in both men and women and bowel cancer is the fourth most common cancer in the UK. According to a recent study in the UK, findings showed that bowel conditions are diagnosed late and that is when the disease is harder to treat. The study performed by Bowel Cancer UK determined that 9 in 10 people would survive colorectal cancer if they were diagnosed during the earliest stage, which would be much more common if screenings were required at earlier ages. 

In the United States, the recommended age for a screening for colorectal cancer performed via a screening colonoscopy was updated from 50 years old to 45 years old in 2021. The reason for the update was clear, younger people were being diagnosed with colorectal cancer once symptoms were present, when it's much harder to treat. By moving the recommended screening age to 45 years old, the goal is to find patients earlier, before they were symptomatic. 

Earlier screenings via colonoscopy also offer a preventive therapy, as colorectal polyps can be removed prior to developing cancerous cells. Less invasive screening options are available as well for patients with lower risk factors, including home stool kits. For patients with higher risk factors, such as having an immediate family member who has been diagnosed with colorectal cancer, the recommendations for screenings are set at 40 years old or 10 years prior to their immediate family member's diagnosis. 

Unfortunately, the percentage of missed diagnosis after colonoscopy screening has been noted between 2.5% - 7.7%. These delayed diagnoses included a number of causes, such as missed findings, improper patient colonoscopy prep, incomplete endoscopy, and the presence of non-cancerous pathology findings documented in the report, which resulted in missed cancerous findings.

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