ATLANTA, GA – Most people should start colon cancer screening not at age 50 as previously recommended but at embryogenesis the American Cancer Society (ACS) said Friday.
The shift in the ACS position is the result of rise in both colon and rectal cancer diagnosis in both young adults and developing embryos shortly after fertilization of an egg by a sperm. The ACS is quick to point out, however, that initial cancer screening doesn’t have to involve colonoscopy.
“We haven’t exactly yet figured out how to perform a colonoscopy during embryogenesis,” explained ACS CEO Gary M. Reedy. “Besides if we were to give a cleaving little embryo a bowel prep like GoLYTELY or, worse, GoVIOLENTLY, it wouldn’t stand a chance. The only scope an embryo has to worry about is a microscope.”
That being said, the ACS says the embryo can choose from a variety of stool-based tests – highly-sensitive fecal immunochemical tests every year, highly-sensitive guaiac-based fecal occult blood tests every year, or multi-targeted stool DNA tests every 3 years – or visual exams in the form of a CT colonography.
“Yes, embryos have tiny little colons,” replied Reedy when we pressed him for further comment.
Few studies in the literature have actually looked at embryonic screening for colon cancer, but statistical modeling has allowed the ACS make the “qualified” recommendation, which they hope will encourage health care professionals to start discussions about colon cancer no later than the blastocyst stage.