Why 45 Is the New 50: Updates to Colonoscopy Guidelines


Whether they've scheduled one or not, many adults have heard that 50 is the prime age for colonoscopy screenings. Most healthcare providers suggest that their patients get their first colonoscopy at age 50 and every ten years thereafter. New research indicates, however, that you should arrange to undergo your first colonoscopy even earlier than age 50.

So, when should you start scheduling colonoscopy procedures, and why has the recommendation changed? Hattiesburg GI Associates, PLLC is here to answer all of your questions. Our board-certified gastroenterologists in Hattiesburg, MS can explain what to expect when having a colonoscopy, when you should get one, and much more.

Begin screening earlier?

For years, we’ve heard that 50 is the age we should start having screenings for colon and rectal cancer. However, recent studies indicate that it's wise to start the screening process even sooner – upon turning 45. As a matter of fact, the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and USPSTF (United States Preventive Services Task Force) are recommending this. In addition, many insurance providers, and even Medicare, have adjusted their plans to start covering colonoscopy exams at age 45.

Much of what has initiated this change results from an increase in the number of colorectal cancer diagnoses in younger people. Between 2008 and 2017, the death rate in individuals aged 55 and younger rose by 1%. This rise is a bit alarming since the all-around colon and rectal cancer rates decreased during that same period of time.

In line with these new findings, the colonoscopy doctors at Hattiesburg GI Associates, PLLC advise undergoing a colon cancer screening with our gastroenterology team upon turning 45 years old.

Why are colonoscopies essential for my health?

You are probably aware that having colorectal cancer screenings is crucial as you advance in age. The reason for this is that colorectal cancer can be diagnosed early on and commonly avoided with these routine tests. Whether someone in your family has had colorectal cancer, you have had colon cancer, or you've reached that “prime age,” colonoscopy exams are a critical part of protecting your general health.

Taking less than an hour to perform, these exams permit our Hattiesburg, MS gastrointestinal specialists to gain a comprehensive, clear view of your large intestine. Throughout this screening, we can look for abnormalities and excise colon polyps, which can be forwarded to the lab for pathology testing. By removing and testing colon polyps, we strive to diagnose colorectal cancer at a very early stage, if not prevent it altogether.

Who is at risk of colorectal cancer?

So now you know when you should start getting colorectal cancer screenings, but what factors increase your chance of developing this disease? Some common risk factors for colon cancer development involve:

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

If you carry one or more of the factors mentioned above, we suggest reaching out to Hattiesburg GI Associates, PLLC as early as possible to learn if you are a candidate for a colonoscopy exam.

Schedule your colonoscopy screening in Hattiesburg, MS

We understand that a colonoscopy screening may seem unappealing; however, this quick, commonly performed, essential evaluation can virtually save lives. Whether you’re 45 or older, we urge you to contact Hattiesburg GI Associates, PLLC to request a colonoscopy consultation. At our premier gastroenterology centers in the Hattiesburg, MS area, we strive to make these screenings as quick and comfortable as possible. If you have questions about whether your insurance covers colonoscopies, our caring team be pleased to assist.

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