Why 45 Is the New 50: Review Changes in Colonoscopy Recommendations
Whether they've had one yet or not, many adults know that 50 is the prime age for colonoscopy exams. The majority of physicians advise that their patients get their first colonoscopy screening when they turn 50 and every ten years after that. New studies show, however, that you should plan to undergo your first colonoscopy even earlier.
When should you begin scheduling colonoscopies, and why has the recommendation changed? GastroArkansas is here to answer any questions you may have. Our team of gastroenterologists in Little Rock, AR can explain what you should expect during a colonoscopy, when to have one, and more.
Why screen sooner?
In previous years, we've heard that 50 is the age we should begin screening exams for colon and rectal cancer. But recent studies indicate that we perhaps should begin these screenings even before then – at age 45. As a matter of fact, the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are advising it. In addition, many insurance companies, including Medicare, have adjusted their policies to begin offering coverage for colonoscopies at this age in life.
Much of what initiated this update results from a rise in colorectal cancer diagnoses among younger people. Between the years 2008 and 2017, the mortality rate among individuals 55 and younger grew by 1%. This increase comes as a bit of a shock since the overall colorectal cancer rates decreased during that particular range of time.
In accordance with these discoveries, our GastroArkansas colonoscopy doctors advise undergoing a colon cancer screening with our Little Rock, AR gastroenterology team upon turning 45 years of age.
Why are colonoscopy exams important for my health?
You have probably heard that undergoing colorectal cancer screenings is vital as you advance in age. This is because colon cancer can be diagnosed in the early stage and is commonly avoided with these routine tests. Whether someone in your family has been diagnosed with colon cancer, you have been diagnosed with colon cancer, or you’re over that “ideal age,” colonoscopy screenings are essential to maintaining your overall health.
These screenings take less than an hour to complete, allowing our doctors to gain a comprehensive, close-up view of your colon. During this exam, we can look for irregularities and remove colorectal polyps, which can then be sent to a laboratory for further evaluation. By extracting and testing colon polyps, our goal is to catch colorectal cancer at a very early stage and hopefully prevent it from occurring.
Am I at risk for colon and rectal cancer?
So now you know when you should start having screenings for colorectal cancer, but what factors increase your chance of developing this disease? Common risk factors for colon and rectal cancer involve the following:
- Poor nutritional habits, or a diet high in fat and low in fiber, vegetables, and fruits
- Prior radiation treatments to the pelvis or abdomen
- An inflammatory bowel disease such as Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis
- Tobacco use
- Inadequate amounts of exercise
- Family history of colorectal cancer
If you carry one or more of the factors mentioned above, we recommend contacting a GastroArkansas location near you as early as possible to determine if you should have a colonoscopy exam.
Schedule your colonoscopy screening in Little Rock, AR
We understand that the thought of undergoing a colonoscopy screening might make you shudder; however, this quick, commonly performed, vital evaluation could save your life. Whether you're 45 or close to that age, you should contact GastroArkansas to schedule a colonoscopy consultation. Our modern gastroenterology centers in the Little Rock, AR area aim to make these exams as efficient and comfortable as possible. If you require assistance determining if your insurance covers colonoscopies, our office staff can help.