A colonoscopy ranks right up there with a root canal for least favorite procedure. The good news is that some of the prep has improved in the last few years, and there are new less invasive screenings available. If caught early enough, colorectal cancer can be treated and cured. Due to some recent findings, the American Cancer Society has data supporting why colorectal screenings should start at age 45 for those with average risks. Up until recently, the ACS recommended that those adults with average risk for colon cancer should begin screening at age 50.
That fact should get your attention, especially if you are a millennial. This increased incidence of colon cancer in younger adults is a significant red flag. Researchers have discovered that adults born around 1990 have a higher risk of colon cancer, as well as four times higher risk for rectal cancer, whereas those born around 1950 have the lowest risk.
By having earlier colorectal screenings, your provider may find precancerous polyps or even detect colon cancer at an earlier stage rather than an advanced stage. Earlier detection of cancer and beginning the treatment early will not only saves lives, but will reduce healthcare costs.
There are multiple risk factors associated with colorectal cancer, and some of which are out of your control. For example, if someone in your family has a history of colorectal cancer, you may be more susceptible. In addition, as you age, you are more at risk, and anyone of Eastern European descent, African American, and Jewish descent tend to more prone to having the disease. Having Type 2 diabetes is also problematic.
No matter your age you can make changes to your lifestyle to reduce the risks.
Those with a higher risk should speak our office and not only be screened earlier than age 45, but should also have more frequent screenings. Those at a higher risk include:
Whether you have stool based tests once a year or visual tests like a colonoscopy every 5 years, don't procrastinate or avoid the process.
If you are in good health, you should continue to be screened through age 75. Between ages 76 - 85, decide in consultation with your provider. After age 85 colorectal screenings are no longer recommended.
We think it's clear why colorectal screenings should start at age 45. If you fall into the millennial generation, schedule a screening soon.
Statistics tell us that 1 in 22 males and 1 in 24 women will be diagnosed with colon cancer in their life. Start thinking of a colonoscopy as a preventative measure and not only a discovery tool.