45 Is the New 50: Review Changes in Colonoscopy Recommendations
Whether they've undergone one or not, many individuals know that 50 is the magic number for colonoscopy screenings. The majority of healthcare providers recommend that adults schedule their first colonoscopy screening at age 50 and then every decade thereafter. Recent research shows, however, that you should plan to have your initial colonoscopy exam even earlier.
You might be wondering when you should begin getting colonoscopies and why this has this changed. Gastroenterology Consultants is here to answer all of your questions. Our team of gastrointestinal doctors in Houston, TX can provide details on what to anticipate during a colonoscopy, when you should schedule this type of exam, and much more.
Why screen earlier?
For some time, we’ve understood that age 50 is when we should start screening for colon and rectal cancer. However, new research studies demonstrate that perhaps we should begin screening for the disease even earlier – upon turning 45. In fact, the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and USPSTF (United States Preventive Services Task Force) are recommending it. In addition, a number of insurance companies, including Medicare, have updated their plans to begin providing coverage for colonoscopy exams at age 45.
Much of what initiated this update results from an increase in the number of colorectal cancer diagnoses among younger patients. During the timeframe of 2008 – 2017, the mortality rate in patients 55 and younger grew by 1%. This rise is a bit alarming since the overall colon and rectal cancer rates decreased within that particular period of time.
To align with these recent circumstances, our colonoscopy doctors at Gastroenterology Consultants recommend undergoing a colon cancer screening with our Houston, TX team upon turning 45.
Why are colonoscopy screenings essential?
You're likely aware that having colorectal cancer screenings is crucial as you advance in age. This is because colon cancer can be caught in the early stage and often prevented with simple tests. Regardless of whether someone in your family has had colorectal cancer, you've experienced colon cancer, or you’re over that “magic number,” colonoscopies are an essential component of preserving your general health.
Lasting about 15 – 30 minutes, these exams permit our providers to gain a clear, close-up view of your colon. In the course of this exam, our specialists look for abnormalities and can remove any colon polyps, which can be sent to a laboratory for further evaluation. By removing these polyps, we aim to catch colon and rectal cancer at a very early stage and hopefully prevent it from occurring altogether.
Who is at risk for colon and rectal cancer?
So now you know the age to begin colon cancer screenings, but what are the risks of this disease? Common risk factors for colon cancer development involve:
- Family history of colorectal cancer
- Poor nutritional habits, or a diet high in fatty foods and low in vegetables, fruits, and fiber
- An inflammatory bowel disease such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease
- Previous radiation treatments to the abdomen or pelvis
- Lack of exercise
- Use of tobacco products
If you carry any of the risk factors listed above, please contact your nearest Gastroenterology Consultants location as early as possible to determine if you should have a colonoscopy.
Schedule a colonoscopy screening in Houston, TX
We realize the idea of undergoing a colonoscopy may sound unappealing; however, this quick, commonly performed, essential test can save lives. At our state-of-the-art gastroenterology centers in the Houston, TX area, we endeavor to make these exams as efficient and comfortable as possible. If you’re 45 or soon to be, we urge you to contact Gastroenterology Consultants to request a colonoscopy consultation. Should you have questions about whether your colonoscopy is covered by insurance, we will be more than happy to assist.