45 Is the New 50: Updates to Colonoscopy Recommendations


Whether you’ve scheduled a screening or not, many adults understand that 50 is the ideal age for colonoscopy screenings. Most doctors advise that patients get their first colonoscopy at age 50 and every decade after that. New studies indicate, however, that it's important to undergo your initial colonoscopy screening even earlier than that.

When should you start scheduling colonoscopy procedures, and why has this changed? Digestive Health Center is ready to answer any questions you may have. Our board-certified gastroenterologists in Ocean Springs, MS can provide information on what you can anticipate during a colonoscopy, when to schedule this screening, and more.

Why screen earlier?

For some time, we’ve known that age 50 is when we should begin screening for colon cancer. But new studies show that we should probably start the screening process even before then – upon turning 45. As a matter of fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) are recommending this. Many insurance providers, including Medicare, have adjusted their policies to begin offering coverage for colonoscopies at age 45.

Much of what has spurred this update results from a growth in colorectal cancer diagnoses among younger patients. Between the years of 2008 and 2017, the mortality rate in people 55 years old and younger increased by 1%. Such an increase comes as a bit of a shock when considering that the overall colorectal cancer rates decreased within that same period.

In accordance with these recent discoveries, our Digestive Health Center providers suggest having a colon cancer screening with our Ocean Springs, MS gastroenterology team as soon as you turn 45 years of age.

Why are colonoscopies important for your health?

Most people are probably aware that colon cancer screenings are essential as we age. It’s because colon cancer can be detected in the early stage and is commonly avoided with these periodic screenings. Regardless of whether someone in your family has had colon cancer, you have experienced colon cancer, or you've reached that “magic number,” colonoscopy screenings are a vital part of preserving your general health.

Taking about 15 – 30 minutes to complete, these screenings allow our providers to gain a comprehensive, close-up view of your colon. During this screening, our specialists can assess for areas of concern and excise any growths, which can then be forwarded to the lab for testing. By removing and testing such polyps, we aim to detect colon cancer at a very early stage, if not prevent it from advancing altogether.

What are the risk factors for colon cancer?

So now you are aware of when you should start getting colorectal cancer screenings, but what might increase your risk for the disease? Common risk factors for colon cancer are:

  • Poor nutritional habits, or a diet high in fat and low in fruits, fiber, and vegetables
  • Family history of colon cancer
  • Use of tobacco products
  • Lack of exercise
  • Prior radiation treatments to the pelvis or abdomen
  • An inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) such as Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis

If any of the above applies to you, we encourage you to contact your nearest Digestive Health Center location as soon as possible to learn if you should have a colonoscopy.

Get a colonoscopy screening in Ocean Springs, MS

We recognize that the thought of having a colonoscopy exam may seem embarrassing; however, this short, commonly performed, essential test can virtually be life-saving. Whether you’re 45 or around that age, you should contact Digestive Health Center to request a colonoscopy. At our state-of-the-art gastroenterology centers in the Ocean Springs, MS area, we strive to make these tests as comfortable and quick as possible. If you need help determining if your colonoscopy is covered by insurance, our caring team will gladly help.

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