Are Colonoscopy Guidelines Going to Change?


dreamstime_s_57463262Typically, colon cancer is considered a disease only experienced by those approaching retirement age. Considering the average age of retirement in the United States is now 62, the idea that colon cancer only affects the “elderly” is not only false, but a dangerous misconception. Currently, colonoscopy screenings are recommended for:

  • Men and women aged 50 or older
  • Those who are at a higher risk for colon cancer
  • Those who have a family or personal history of colon or other cancers

This recommendation is not just a suggestion – it’s to be taken seriously. Many men and women put off their first colonoscopy screening when they turn 50 because they believe it to be unnecessary, or because they think it is something to dread. As of now, colonoscopies are advised every 10 years unless needed more often as recommended by a doctor. However, recent studies have found evidence to support earlier, perhaps even more frequent, preventative colonoscopy screenings.

Why would colon cancer screenings change?

Studies have found that more people under the age of 50 are being diagnosed with colon cancer, including those in their 20s, 30s and 40s. Reports of colon cancer in those under 50 are often coupled with a diagnosis of an advanced stage of cancer. However, with aggressive treatment, those under 50 years of age are less likely to experience a recurrence of the disease.

Knowing your risk for colon cancer

As of today, colonoscopy screening guidelines have not changed, but it is important to be aware of whether or not you are at a high risk for colon cancer and the disease’s symptoms. Colon cancer symptoms are often confused with general illness because they include fatigue, weight loss, abdominal pain, diarrhea, and constipation. The disease’s “red flag” is bloody stool, which when combined with other symptoms often pushes a patient to reach out to their provider.

If you are interested in scheduling a colonoscopy with the experienced GI specialists of the Center for Colonoscopy Excellence, please contact us today.

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