Clinicians should discontinue screening for colorectal cancer in average-risk adults older than 75 years or in adults with a life expectancy of 10 years or less.
While the benefit from screening increases with age, so do the risks for harm, especially serious harm. Data show the balance of harms and benefits reaching a tipping point at around 75 years of age. But again, this isn’t a universal recommendation, the statement says.
“Persons with no history of [colorectal cancer] screening may benefit from screening after age 75 years, whereas those who have received regular screening with negative results may not.”
Cessation of testing considers life expectancy after age 75 years. The average life expectancy for healthy 75-year-old men and women in the United States is 9.9 and 12 years, respectively. But among men and women with serious medical comorbidities, average life expectancy after age 70 years drops to 8.9 and 10.8 years, respectively.
“Therefore, most persons aged 75 years or older, as well as most adults who are younger than 75 years but have serious comorbid conditions [such as chronic renal failure], are unlikely to benefit from screening but would undergo unnecessary, burdensome, potentially harmful, and costly screening tests.”
As in any testing discussion, personal preferences are important, but not just to make patients feel comfortable about their choice. Mindset about colorectal cancer testing has a very big effect on compliance, the statement noted.
“For example, a biennial stool test is not a good screening strategy for patients who may be unwilling or unlikely to follow up every other year. In addition, given the tradeoffs between benefits and harms, some patients may want less intensive screening, such as screening that begins at a later age, stops at an earlier age, or recurs less frequently regardless of modality selected.”
SOURCE: Qassam A et al. .