MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — If you’re in your mid-40s and haven’t had your colon checked, it may be time.

New guidelines from the American Cancer Society say colorectal cancer screening should start at age 45, not 50. That’s because cancer and death rates are rising for younger adults.

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Colorectal cancers are the second deadliest cancer.  University of Minnesota researchers helped determine the new standard, in health watch.

Proud teacher and proud mom, Sonya Zucker of White Bear Lake, has a lot to be proud of.  Four years ago, she took on an unwanted title too. She said she knew something was wrong when she saw “Blood in the poop, blood in the stool.”

It was Stage 4 colon cancer.

“It was a month before my 42nd birthday,” Zucker said.

It is young to be diagnosed with colon cancer.  Until now, screening wasn’t even recommended till age 50.  The American Cancer Society has now lowered the age to 45.

“I had six rounds of chemo, followed by a major surgery and six more rounds of chemo,” Zucker said.

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University of Minnesota Researcher Dr. Timothy Church is a professor at the School of Public Health, and he is trying to prevent stories like Sonya’s.

He was part of the new study recommending screening younger people.  As his data shows, colon cancer has been going up in people in their 20s, 30s and 40’s.  But it’s going down in older populations.

“I think it’s at least partly because we’re doing screening for colorectal cancer, colonoscopies, Sigmoidoscopies, blood test, all the different ways,” Church said.

His hope is to spare people like Sonya, who is now in remission, from a whole lot of pain.

“We can save lives and we can prevent sickness and suffering if people get screened for colorectal cancer,” Church said.

Another takeaway from Dr. Church: He says if you are healthy and above the age of 75, you should continue to get screened for cancer at least through the age of 85.

Those at high risk, including African-Americans and Alaska natives, should get screened even earlier than their mid-40s.

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Here is the study.

Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield