45 Is the New 50: Explore Changes in Colonoscopy Recommendations
Whether you've had one yet or not, you've likely heard that 50 is the ideal age for colonoscopy screenings. Many healthcare providers advise that patients undergo their initial colonoscopy upon turning 50 and every decade after that. New studies show, however, that you should plan to undergo your first colonoscopy screening even earlier.
When should you begin getting colonoscopies, and why has this changed? Washington Gastroenterology is ready to answer your questions. Our team of gastrointestinal doctors in Washington can explain what you should expect when having a colonoscopy, when you should have them, and more.
Why begin screening sooner?
For years, we’ve understood that 50 is the age at which we should start having screenings for colon cancer. But recent studies show that perhaps we should start screening for the disease even before then – upon turning 45. In fact, the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are recommending this. In addition, a number of insurance companies, including Medicare, have adjusted their policies to start offering coverage for colonoscopy exams at this age in life.
Much of what has initiated this change stems from a rise in the number of colorectal cancer diagnoses in younger individuals. Between the timeframe of 2008 and 2017, the mortality rate among patients 55 and younger increased by 1%. Such an increase is a bit surprising, considering the overall colon and rectal cancer rates declined during that particular period of time.
In line with these new findings, our Washington colonoscopy doctors recommend getting a colon cancer screening gastroenterology team upon turning 45.
Why are colonoscopy screenings essential for my health?
You're probably aware that colorectal cancer screenings are imperative as you age. This is because colon and rectal cancer can be caught in the early stage and often avoided with these routine exams. Whether someone in your family has experienced colorectal cancer, you have been diagnosed with this disease, or you’re over that “magic age,” colonoscopies are a vital part of managing your general health.
Taking less than an hour to perform, these exams permit our physicians to gain a close-up, comprehensive view of your colon. During a colonoscopy exam, our specialists can assess for areas of concern and remove any colorectal polyps, which can be forwarded to a laboratory for further evaluation. By extracting and testing these polyps, our objective is to detect colon cancer while it's in an early stage, if not prevent its development altogether.
Am I at risk for colon and rectal cancer?
Now you know the age to start undergoing colon cancer screenings, but what might place you at a higher risk for this disease? Some of the more common risk factors for colorectal cancer include:
- Inflammatory bowel disease such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease
- Family history of colon cancer
- Previous radiation treatments to the pelvis or abdomen
- Lack of physical activity
- Tobacco use
- Poor diet, or a diet high in fatty foods and low in fruits, vegetables, and fiber
Should you carry any of these risk factors, we recommend contacting a Washington Gastroenterology location near you as early as possible to determine if you should have a colonoscopy screening.
Get a colonoscopy screening in Washington
We recognize that the thought of scheduling a colonoscopy screening may make you shudder; however, this quick, commonly performed, vital test can possibly save your life. If you’re 45 or older, we urge you to contact Washington Gastroenterology to schedule a colonoscopy consultation. At our modern gastroenterology centers throughout the state of Washington, we strive to make these tests as quick and comfortable as possible. In the event you require assistance determining if your insurance covers colonoscopies, our knowledgeable team will be more than happy to help.