FDA approves Cologuard use in younger Americans

A rise of colon cancer in adults under age 50 has sparked the FDA to approve the use of Cologuard — a noninvasive, at-home screen for colon cancer developed by Madison-based Exact Sciences Corp. — to eligible average-risk individuals ages 45 and older.

The news follows an American Cancer Society recommendation in May to screen younger patients for colon cancer, according to an Exact Sciences release. Between 2004 and 2015, more than 130,000 cases of colorectal cancer were diagnosed in individuals under age 50. Among those, more than half were diagnosed at an advanced stage (III or IV) when survival rates are low.

Colon cancer is considered one of the most preventable, yet least prevented, form of cancer in the U.S., but it is also the second deadliest cancer in the U.S. and regular screening is crucial.

With this expansion, Cologuard can now be used by about 19 million average-risk people between the ages of 45 to 49.