Why 45 Is the New 50: Updates to Colonoscopy Recommendations
Regardless of whether you’ve scheduled one or not, many adults know that 50 is the magic number for colonoscopies. The majority of medical providers suggest that their patients have an initial colonoscopy when they reach age 50 and then every decade following that. New research indicates, however, that it's important to have your first colonoscopy screening even earlier in life.
When should you start scheduling colonoscopies, and why has this timeframe changed? Digestive Health Associates of Texas is here to answer any questions you may have. Our team of gastroenterologists in Dallas, TX can explain what you can anticipate when having a colonoscopy, when you should get one, and far more.
Why screen sooner?
For years, we’ve known that 50 is the age we should start screening for colon cancer. However, recent studies show that we should start screening even earlier – at age 45. In fact, the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and USPSTF (United States Preventive Services Task Force) are advising this. A number of insurance providers, and even Medicare, have adjusted their policies to start covering colonoscopies at this age in life.
This update results from a rise in colon cancer cases among younger individuals. Between 2008 and 2017, the mortality rate in people 55 and younger grew by 1%. Such an increase is a bit alarming when considering that the all-around colon and rectal cancer rates actually decreased within that particular range of time.
In keeping with these recent discoveries, the colonoscopy doctors at Digestive Health Associates of Texas suggest getting a colon cancer screening with our Dallas, TX team upon turning 45 years old.
Why are colonoscopy screenings important for your health?
You have likely heard that undergoing colorectal cancer screenings is vital as we age. This is because colon and rectal cancer can be diagnosed in the early stage and often prevented with these regular exams. Whether someone in your family has had colorectal cancer, you have experienced colon cancer, or you are over that “ideal age,” colonoscopy screenings are a key aspect of maintaining your overall health.
Taking about 15 – 30 minutes to perform, these exams enable our providers to gain a comprehensive, close-up view of your large intestine (colon). During this exam, our specialists can look for areas of concern and remove any colorectal polyps (growths), which can then be forwarded to a laboratory for testing. By removing colorectal polyps, we aim to identify colon cancer at a very early stage, if not prevent it from occurring altogether.
Who is at risk for colon cancer?
You are now aware of the age to start having colon cancer screenings, but what factors increase your chance of developing this disease? Some common risk factors for colon and rectal cancer development involve the following:
- Poor nutritional habits, or a diet high in fatty foods and low in fruits, fiber, and vegetables
- Lack of physical activity
- Use of tobacco products
- Prior radiation treatments to the pelvis or abdomen
- An inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease
- Family history of colorectal cancer
In the event you have any of the factors mentioned above, please contact your nearest Digestive Health Associates of Texas location to determine if you should have a colonoscopy screening.
Schedule a colonoscopy screening in Dallas, TX
We understand that having a colonoscopy exam might seem unappealing; however, this fast, commonly performed, essential evaluation can virtually save your life. Whether you have turned 45 years old or are soon to be, we urge you to get in touch with Digestive Health Associates of Texas to request a colonoscopy consultation. At our premier gastroenterology centers in the Dallas, TX area, we endeavor to make these screenings as comfortable and quick as possible. If you need help determining whether your insurance covers colonoscopies, our knowledgeable team will be happy to assist.