45 Is the New 50: Explore Changes in Colonoscopy Guidelines


Regardless of whether you’ve had a screening or not, many individuals are aware that 50 is the ideal age for colonoscopy exams. Most physicians suggest that patients get their initial colonoscopy upon turning 50 and then every ten years after that. Recent research shows, however, that you should plan to have your first colonoscopy even before that.

When should you begin scheduling colonoscopy exams, and why has this changed? Digestive Health Center is ready to answer any questions you may have. Our board-certified gastrointestinal specialists in Thibodaux, LA can provide detailed information on what to expect with a colonoscopy, when to get them, and so much more.

Why screen for colon cancer sooner?

In previous years, we’ve known that turning 50 marks the time when we should start having screenings for rectal and colon cancer. However, current studies indicate that we should probably start screening even before then – upon turning age 45. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) are advising it. A number of insurance providers, even Medicare, have augmented their plans to start providing coverage for colonoscopies at age 45.

Much of what initiated this update comes from a rise in the number of colorectal cancer diagnoses among younger people. Between the years of 2008 and 2017, the death rate in individuals 55 and younger increased by 1%. This rise comes as a bit of a shock since the all-around colorectal cancer rates decreased within that same time period.

In keeping with these new circumstances, our Digestive Health Center colonoscopy doctors advise getting a colon cancer screening with our Thibodaux, LA gastroenterology team when you turn 45.

Why are colonoscopies important for your health?

You are likely aware that having colorectal cancer screenings is crucial as we advance in age. It’s because colorectal cancer can be identified very early and commonly prevented with simple tests. Whether someone in your family has had colon cancer, you have experienced this disease, or you’re over that “magic age,” colonoscopy screenings are a vital aspect of managing your health and wellness.

These screenings take about 15 – 30 minutes to complete and allow our providers to gain a clear, close-up view of your large intestine (colon). During this screening, we can examine areas of concern and excise any colorectal polyps, which can be sent to the lab for testing. By removing colorectal polyps, our goal is to diagnose colorectal cancer at a very early stage and hopefully prevent it from occurring.

Who is at risk for colon and rectal cancer?

So now you are aware of the age to begin undergoing screenings for colon cancer, but what factors increase your chance of developing this disease? Some of the more common risk factors for colorectal cancer include the following:

  • Use of tobacco products
  • An inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease
  • Family history
  • Previous radiation treatments to the abdominal or pelvic area
  • Insufficient amounts of exercise
  • Poor diet, or a diet high in fatty foods and low in vegetables, fruits, and fiber

If you have any of the risk factors listed above, we suggest that you contact your nearest Digestive Health Center location as early as you can to determine if you are a candidate for a colonoscopy.

Get a colonoscopy screening in Thibodaux, LA

We realize that the thought of undergoing a colonoscopy exam might make you squirm; however, this quick, noninvasive, vital evaluation could potentially save lives. Whether you've turned 45 or are older, we encourage you to contact Digestive Health Center to request a colonoscopy. At our premier gastroenterology centers in the Thibodaux, LA area, we strive to make these screenings as fast and comfortable as possible. Should you have questions about whether your insurance plan covers your colonoscopy, our knowledgeable team will be pleased to help.

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