How you respond to numbers may affect health decisions you make

According to American Cancer Society updated guidelines from mid-2018, American adults between the ages of 45 and 50 should consider getting screened for colo-rectal cancer (CRC).


Because according to the ACS, CRC rates have increased 22 % in this age group over the last few years.

That is true butt . . .

That’s what’s known as a relative rate of increase.

In much more palatable absolute numbers, there’s been an increase of just over one extra case of CRC per 100,000 individuals in this age group, so that the risk of CRC in this age group is now roughly 7 cases per 100,000 instead of roughly 6 cases.

So before getting a screening test you should ask yourself something like this: Is an increased risk of one case per 100,000 people really enough of an increase that screams for me to get screened, taking into account that all screening tests have large potential negative consequences (for example, colonoscopies can lead to bowel perforation).

As usual, this is a two-handed situation.

On the one hand, a 22 % higher risk is nothing to sneeze at.

On the much more tempting other hand, a risk that has gone from 6/100000 to 7/100000 draws a pretty emphatic “Meh” response from me.