Ed Day, Rockland County Executive

March 14, 2019
Contact: John Lyon, Director of Strategic Communications (845) 638-5645
                 Patricia Schnabel Ruppert, D.O., M.P.H., CPE, DABFM, FAAFP (845) 364-2512


American Cancer Society issued updated colorectal cancer testing guidelines

NEW CITY, NY - - During Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, Rockland County Executive Ed Day and County Health Commissioner Dr. Patricia Schnabel Ruppert inform residents that the American Cancer Society updated their guidelines for colorectal cancer screening in May 2018, recommending that screening should begin at age 45 for people at average risk. Previously, the American Cancer Society guidelines recommended screening begin at age 50 for people at average risk. Recommendations for screening test options are also part of the guideline changes.

Screening is the process of looking for cancer or pre-cancer in people who don't have any symptoms of the disease. Regular colorectal cancer screening tests can help prevent cancer by finding (and removing) polyps before they turn into cancer and can also help find cancer early. When colorectal cancer is found early, it can be more easily and successfully treated.

"Screening can be done either with a sensitive test that looks for signs of cancer in a person's stool (a stool-based test), or with an exam that looks at the colon and rectum (a visual exam). Talk to your health care provider about which tests might be good options for you; also talk to your insurance provider about your coverage. No matter which test you choose, the most important thing for you to do is to get screened," said Dr. Ruppert. For more information about the new screening guidelines visit

Colorectal cancer is cancer that occurs in the colon or rectum. It usually starts from polyps (small growths) on the lining of the colon or rectum. Polyps and colorectal cancer may not cause symptoms, especially at first. It can take many years for a polyp to develop into colorectal cancer.

Some people have certain risk factors that make them more likely to develop this type of cancer, and to get it at an earlier age. This may mean they should start screening earlier or get tested more often than other people. One of these risk factors is a family history of colon cancer or pre-cancerous polyps, especially in parents, brothers and sisters, or children. Family history of other colon problems can also increase risk. These include hereditary syndromes such as familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) or hereditary non-polyposis colon cancer (HNPCC), also known as Lynch syndrome. Your own personal history can also affect your risk. For example, you are more likely to get colon cancer if you have had pre-cancerous colon polyps in the past. Having other conditions, such as ulcerative colitis, Crohn's disease, or type 2 diabetes can also increase your risk of colon cancer. It is important to talk to your doctor about your colorectal cancer risk, which screening tests are right for you, and when you should get them.

The Cancer Services Program of the Hudson Valley Region offers FREE colorectal cancer screening tests and follow-up services if you are uninsured (or under-insured) and meet eligibility requirements. For more information call (855) 277-4482 or visit To learn more about colorectal cancer, call the American Cancer Society at (800) 227-2345 or visit