Changes in Colonoscopy Guidelines: 45 Is the New 50


Whether you’ve scheduled one yet or not, you likely know that 50 is the ideal age for colonoscopy exams. Most healthcare providers recommend that patients get their first colonoscopy screening when they turn 50 and then every ten years following that. Recent research shows, however, that you should arrange to undergo your first colonoscopy screening even earlier than age 50.

When should you start scheduling colonoscopy screenings, and why has the recommendation changed? GI Alliance of Arkansas is ready to answer any questions you may have. Our team of gastroenterologists in Northwest Arkansas can answer all your questions about what you can expect with a colonoscopy, when you should schedule one, and so much more.

Start screening sooner?

For some time, we’ve understood that age 50 is when we should begin screening exams for colon cancer. But recent studies reveal that perhaps we should start these screenings even sooner – at age 45. As a matter of fact, the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are recommending it. Many insurance providers, and even Medicare, have modified their plans to begin providing coverage for colonoscopies at this age in life.

Much of what has spurred this update results from an elevation in colon cancer diagnoses among younger patients. Between the years 2008 and 2017, the mortality rate in patients aged 55 and younger rose by 1%. This increase is a bit alarming when considering that the all-around colorectal cancer rates decreased during that same timeframe.

In keeping with these recent findings, the colonoscopy doctors at GI Alliance of Arkansas suggest having a colon cancer screening at one of our Northwest Arkansas gastroenterology locations as soon as you turn 45.

Why are colonoscopy exams essential?

Most of us are likely aware that having colon cancer screenings is crucial as we become older. The reason for this is that colorectal cancer can be caught very early and often prevented with routine tests. Regardless of whether someone in your family has been diagnosed with colorectal cancer, you have experienced this disease, or you are over that “prime age,” colonoscopy screenings are a key component of maintaining your health and wellness.

These 15 to 30-minute screenings allow our physicians to gain a comprehensive, clear view of your large intestine (colon). When providing this screening, our specialists can assess for areas of concern and excise any colorectal polyps, which can then be sent to a laboratory for further evaluation. By extracting and testing any polyps, our goal is to detect colon and rectal cancer at the initial stage and prevent it from advancing.

What are the risk factors for colon cancer?

You now know the age to start undergoing screenings for colon cancer. But what might increase your risk of this disease? Common risk factors for colorectal cancer development involve:

  • Poor nutrition, or a diet high in fat and low in fruits, fiber, and vegetables
  • An inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) such as Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis
  • Family history
  • Prior radiation treatments to the pelvic or abdominal area
  • Tobacco use
  • Lack of physical activity

Should you have one or more of the risk factors listed above, please contact your nearest GI Alliance of Arkansas location to determine if you should arrange for a colonoscopy.

Get a colonoscopy screening in Northwest Arkansas

We realize the idea of a colonoscopy exam may seem unappealing, but this fast, commonly performed, vital test can virtually save your life. Whether you have turned 45 or are soon to be, you should get in touch with GI Alliance of Arkansas to schedule a colonoscopy consultation. At our leading gastroenterology centers in the Northwest Arkansas area, we strive to make these exams as comfortable and quick as possible. Should you need help determining if your insurance plan covers colonoscopies, our team can provide assistance.

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