Prevent Colon Cancer with a Colonoscopy Starting at Age 45. South Central Gastroenterology Offers Direct Access Colonoscopy.
It used to be 50. Now, anyone approaching their 45th birthday should talk to their primary care provider to schedule a possibly lifesaving colonoscopy.
A colonoscopy is an exam that can stop colorectal cancer, which is among the most common – and deadly – forms of the disease. South Central Gastroenterology and the American Cancer Association both recommend the screening.
Why the Age Changed to 45:
Over the last 20 years, experts in the field of oncology and gastroenterology noticed trends, including:
- An increase of more than 10% of colorectal cancers in people ages 20 to 39
- An increase of the same rate of the same cancers in people ages 40-50
Reducing the recommended age to 45 made sense in light of these numbers. Carolyn Cegielski, DO, Gastroenterologist at South Central Gastroenterology states, “The sooner the colon exam occurs, the more likely providers can either detect it, or better yet, stop colon cancer in its tracks.”
Why Colonoscopy is Best:
Colonoscopy is widely considered the best exam to stop this cancer. “As medical providers, we can not only detect colon cancer early, we can stop it from developing altogether by removing precancerous polyps,” said Dr. Cegielski.
“When we perform a colonoscopy, we use a scope fitted with a tiny camera to explore your colon, and if we find a polyp, we can remove it right then and there,” said Dr. Cegielski. “If there is a lesion, we can biopsy it and determine if you need further surgery or other treatment.”
Early detection offers the best chance for a better outcome should you receive a cancer diagnosis.
Other screening tests, like stool immunochemical and DNA tests, can detect cancer and/or blood in the stool. Dr. Cegielski commented, “However if it comes back positive, you still need to have a colonoscopy. And, it does not offer your medical provider an opportunity to spot and remove a precancerous polyp.”
However, any screening test for colon cancer is better than no screening at all, so talk to your medical provider about your options.
Colon Cancer Symptoms
Talk to your doctor if you experience any of these:
- Blood in your stool. Sometimes blood will lead to stools that are tar-like and black in color.
- Internal bleeding in the colon can prevent oxygen from circulating in the blood, causing you to feel tired. Your skin might appear pale, too.
- Constant gas, cramps or bloating, along with discomfort, can all be signs of an issue.
- If you go from “once a day” to “a few times a day” it could be nothing. But if it seems abrupt or the shift is dramatic – talk to your provider.
- When cancer impacts the normal process, you could have unintentional weight loss.
How to Prevent Colon Cancer
Colon cancer can happen to healthy people who eat well and exercise daily. It can occur in people who have too much pizza and soft drinks every day, too. Your genetic makeup is something you cannot change. But if you are aware of it, you can lower your risk.
If there is a history of cancer in the family, your medical provider may advise you to begin colonoscopy before 45.
You can lower your risk of colon cancer with these steps, too:
- Exercise regularly
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Follow a diet low in fat and high in fiber
- See your provider at least annually
South Central Gastroenterology encourages all adults, ages 45 and up to talk to your provider about colon cancer. If you are already 45 and postponed this procedure, step up and get it on the schedule. It can literally save your life.
Are you age 45 or older and still need a colonoscopy? South Central Gastroenterology offers Direct Access Colonoscopy. This program allows healthy individuals, age 45 and older, to schedule a colonoscopy screening without scheduling an initial office visit and pick up preparation supplies at a pharmacy of your choice. By skipping these steps, you will save valuable time. Contact our program directly at 601-518-7106 or visit scrmc.com/services/gastroenterology-direct-access/.