45 Is the New 50: Changes in Colonoscopy Guidelines
Regardless of whether they've scheduled one or not, many individuals understand that 50 is the magic number for colonoscopy exams. The majority of healthcare providers recommend that people have their initial colonoscopy when they reach age 50 and every ten years following that. New studies indicate, however, that you should plan to undergo your first colonoscopy screening even earlier.
When should you begin having colonoscopy exams, and why the change? Metropolitan Gastroenterology Associates is ready to answer all of your questions. Our board-certified gastrointestinal doctors in New Orleans, LA can provide detailed information on what you should anticipate during a colonoscopy, when you should undergo this screening, and more.
Why screen for colon cancer earlier?
For some time, we’ve known that turning 50 marks the time when we should begin screening for colorectal cancer. However, recent studies show that it is wise to start these screenings even earlier – upon turning 45. In fact, the USPSTF (United States Preventive Services Task Force) and the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) are advising it. In addition, a number of insurance providers, even Medicare, have modified their policies to begin offering coverage for colonoscopies at age 45.
Much of what has spurred this update stems from a growth in the number of colorectal cancer diagnoses among younger people. Between 2008 and 2017, the mortality rate in individuals 55 and younger rose by 1%. Such a rise comes as a bit of a shock given that the all-around colorectal cancer rates actually decreased during that same period of time.
To align with these new updates, our Metropolitan Gastroenterology Associates doctors suggest getting a colon cancer screening with our New Orleans, LA team upon turning 45 years of age.
Why are colonoscopy exams essential for your health?
Most of us are likely aware that undergoing colorectal cancer screenings is vital in our older years. The reason for this is that colon cancer can be diagnosed early on and often avoided with simple exams. Whether a member of your family has experienced colorectal cancer, you have been diagnosed with this disease, or you've reached that “prime age,” colonoscopy screenings are a key aspect of managing your health and wellness.
Taking less than an hour to complete, these exams allow our doctors to gain a clear, comprehensive view of your large intestine (colon). When providing this screening, we can assess for irregularities and remove any polyps (growths), which can be sent to a laboratory for further evaluation. By removing and testing these polyps, our objective is to diagnose colon cancer at the initial stage or hopefully prevent it altogether.
What are the risk factors for colorectal cancer?
You are now aware of the age to begin having colorectal cancer screenings, but what are the risks for this disease? Common risk factors for colon cancer include the following:
- Family history
- Poor dietary habits, or a diet high in fatty foods and low in fruits, fiber, and vegetables
- Lack of exercise
- Use of tobacco products
- An inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease
- Previous radiation treatments to the abdomen or pelvis
Should you carry any of the risk factors listed above, we advise contacting a Metropolitan Gastroenterology Associates location near you as soon as possible to determine if you should schedule a colonoscopy screening.
Get your colonoscopy screening in New Orleans, LA
We know the thought of scheduling a colonoscopy exam may seem unappealing; however, this commonly performed, vital examination could likely save lives. If you’re 45 or older, we encourage you to contact Metropolitan Gastroenterology Associates to schedule a colonoscopy consultation. At our premier gastroenterology centers in the New Orleans, LA area, we strive to make these screenings as fast and comfortable as possible. Should you need help determining if your insurance plan covers colonoscopies, our team will be pleased to assist.