When To Schedule Your First Colonoscopy
Colonoscopy schedules are different for those who have significant risk factors like someone who had colon cancer versus someone who has not. The timing of rescreening, how often, and how long to continue them are all variables, except when to schedule your first colonoscopy.
Rising Risk Of Colon Cancer For Young Adults
Diagnosis of colon cancer is rising for those under the age of 50. For that reason the age to begin screening has dropped in the last few years to age 45. That means you should have your first colonoscopy by age 45 or even earlier if you have risk factors for the disease.
The Value Of Early Screening
Screenings are used to discover disease before there are any symptoms. Colorectal cancer usually develops from polyps or abnormal precancerous growths in the colon or rectum. A colonoscopy can find and remove these growths before they turn into cancer. In addition, a colonoscopy can find cancer early when it is easiest to treat.
Guidance For Screenings With Average Risk
The American Cancer Society recommends beginning colorectal screenings at age 45 for those with average risk. After that, if you remain in good health, you should have a screening every 10 years until age 75. After 75, screenings should be based on patient preference, life expectancy, overall health, prior screenings, and/or Digestive Health Services recommendation. They may be discontinued at age 85.
Risk Factors For Colon Cancer
Certain risk factors will necessitate a screening before age 45 and more frequently than every 10 years. Talk with relatives about their own medical history especially anything relating to colon cancer.
The risk factors for colon cancer include the following:
- Personal history of cancer or certain polyps found during a previous screening
- A family history of colorectal cancer
- A strong familial history of colon cancer or certain types of polyps
- Having IBS or Inflammatory Bowel Syndrome, ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s Disease
- A history of radiation to the abdomen or pelvic area as treatment for another type of cancer.
Be sure to communicate any of these risk factors to your physician for the proper screening schedule.
Each type of risk factor can carry with it certain individual screening guidelines.
The best way to prevent colon cancer is by early screening. The prep for colonoscopy has improved over the last decade so don’t allow others to scare you from having this life saving screening.