Why 45 Is the New 50: Explore Updates to Colonoscopy Recommendations


Whether they've had one yet or not, many adults understand that 50 is the prime age for having a colonoscopy exam. The majority of medical providers advise that people schedule their first colonoscopy screening when they reach age 50 and then every ten years after that. Recent studies indicate, however, that it's important to undergo an initial colonoscopy even earlier than age 50.

When should you begin having colonoscopy screenings, and why has the recommendation changed? Digestive Health Specialists is ready to answer all of your questions. Our board-certified gastrointestinal specialists in Kansas City, MO can provide detailed information on what you can expect during a colonoscopy, when to schedule one, and more.

Why screen sooner?

For some time, we’ve understood that turning 50 marks the time when we should start screening for colorectal cancer. However, recent research studies show that we should perhaps start the screening process even sooner – upon turning 45. As a matter of fact, the USPSTF (United States Preventive Services Task Force) and the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) are advising this. In addition, many insurance companies, including Medicare, have augmented their policies to start providing coverage for colonoscopies at age 45.

This change results from a growth in colorectal cancer diagnoses in younger patients. Between 2008 and 2017, the mortality rate in patients aged 55 and younger rose by 1%. Such a rise comes as a bit of a shock, considering that the all-around colorectal cancer rates dropped during that particular period of time.

In support of these discoveries, our Digestive Health Specialists colonoscopy doctors advise undergoing a colon cancer screening with our Kansas City, MO team upon turning 45.

Why are colonoscopy screenings important for your health?

You've likely heard that undergoing colon cancer screenings is essential as you age. The reason for this is that colon and rectal cancer can be detected early on and commonly prevented with these simple exams. Whether a member of your family has experienced colon cancer, you've been diagnosed with colon cancer, or you've reached that “magic number,” colonoscopies are a critical part of protecting your health and wellness.

Taking about 15 – 30 minutes to complete, these exams allow our providers to gain a clear, comprehensive view of your large intestine (colon). When providing this screening, we can assess for areas of concern and remove any growths (polyps), which can be sent to the lab for in-depth evaluation. By extracting these polyps, our objective is to find colon cancer at the initial stage and hopefully prevent it from advancing altogether.

Am I at risk for colorectal cancer?

Now you know when you should begin getting colorectal cancer screenings, but what factors increase your chance of developing this disease? Common risk factors for colon cancer development include:

  • Family history of colon cancer
  • Prior radiation treatments to the abdominal or pelvic area
  • An inflammatory bowel disease such as Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis
  • Poor nutritional habits, or a diet high in fatty foods and low in fiber, vegetables, and fruits
  • Tobacco use
  • Lack of exercise

If you have any of the risk factors listed above, we encourage you to contact your nearest Digestive Health Specialists location as soon as possible to find out if you are a candidate for a colonoscopy exam.

Schedule a colonoscopy screening in Kansas City, MO

We realize that having a colonoscopy screening might seem embarrassing, but this quick, vital examination could be life-saving. At our leading gastroenterology centers in the Kansas City, MO area, we aim to make these screenings as efficient and comfortable as possible. If you're 45 or older, we encourage you to contact Digestive Health Specialists to schedule a colonoscopy consultation. In the event you need help determining if your insurance plan covers your colonoscopy, we will be more than happy to assist.

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