Together with lead investigator Jaydutt Vadgama, M.D., researchers conducted a retrospective analysis of 148 African-American and Hispanic patients with colorectal cancer and identified 38 patients (26 percent) who were diagnosed under the age of 50, with the median age of diagnosis 42 (the range was 25 to 49.) Among the 38 patients diagnosed with colorectal cancer younger than 50 years old, half had a family history of colorectal cancer.
These findings underscore the importance of colorectal cancer screening for those at higher risk by family history. Dr. Vadgama and the Drew researchers raise an important issue of when to begin screening and they conclude that "colorectal cancer screening should be considered in African-Americans and Hispanics beginning at age 40 regardless of family history." The current guidelines published by the American College of Gastroenterology in 2000 suggest that those at higher than average risk for colorectal cancer due to family history among two or more first degree relatives should be screened by colonoscopy at age 40 or 10 years younger than the age at diagnosis of the youngest affected relative, whichever is earlier.