45 Is the New 50: Explore Changes in Colonoscopy Recommendations


Despite whether they've undergone one or not, many people are aware that age 50 is the magic number for colonoscopies. Most doctors suggest that patients have their initial colonoscopy screening at age 50 and then every decade following. New studies show, however, that it's important to have your initial colonoscopy screening even before reaching this age.

So, when should you begin getting colonoscopy procedures, and why has this timeframe changed? Texas Digestive Disease Consultants is here to answer all of your questions. Our board-certified gastroenterologists in Texas can provide information on what you should anticipate when having a colonoscopy, when you should schedule one, and much more.

Why screen for colon cancer sooner?

For some time, we’ve heard age 50 is when we should begin screening for colorectal cancer. But current studies demonstrate that it is wise to start these screenings even before then – upon turning age 45. In fact, the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and USPSTF (United States Preventive Services Task Force) are advising it. Many insurance companies, even Medicare, have updated their plans to start offering coverage for colonoscopies at this earlier age.

This update stems from an elevation in the number of colorectal cancer cases in younger individuals. Between 2008 and 2017, the mortality rate in patients 55 and younger rose by 1%. This rise comes as a bit of a surprise since the overall colon and rectal cancer rates declined during that particular period.

To align with these recent circumstances, the colonoscopy doctors at Texas Digestive Disease Consultants suggest undergoing a colon cancer screening with our gastroenterology team when you turn 45.

Why are colonoscopy screenings essential for my health?

You are probably aware that having screenings for colorectal cancer is vital as you become older. This is because colon cancer can be caught in the early stage and is commonly prevented with routine exams. Whether a member of your family has been diagnosed with colorectal cancer, you have had colon cancer, or you've reached that “prime age,” colonoscopies are a key component of managing your general health.

These 15 to 30-minute exams enable our doctors to gain a clear, comprehensive view of your colon. During this exam, our specialists can look for irregularities and remove any colon polyps, which can then be sent to a laboratory for further evaluation. By removing and testing any polyps, we aim to identify colon cancer while it's in an early stage, if not prevent it from occurring altogether.

What are the risk factors for colorectal cancer?

You are now aware of when you should begin getting screenings for colon cancer, but what are the risks for this disease? Some common risk factors for colorectal cancer development include:

  • Inflammatory bowel disease such as Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis
  • Tobacco use
  • Family history of colon cancer
  • Lack of exercise
  • Poor nutrition, or a diet high in fat and low in vegetables, fiber, and fruits
  • Prior radiation treatments to the pelvis or abdomen

Should you have one or more of these risk factors, we encourage you to reach out to your nearest Texas Digestive Disease Consultants location as soon as possible to learn if you should schedule a colonoscopy screening.

Schedule your colonoscopy screening in Texas

We understand that the idea of scheduling a colonoscopy screening might seem unappealing. However, this quick, vital examination could save your life. If you’re 45 or older, we urge you to contact Texas Digestive Disease Consultants to request a colonoscopy consultation. At our leading gastroenterology centers throughout Texas, we aim to make these screenings as comfortable and efficient as possible. If you have questions about whether your colonoscopy is covered by insurance, our office staff can help.

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