45 is the New 50 for Your First Colonoscopy
University Gastroenterology and University Endoscopy Group explain why you should consider getting a colorectal cancer screening sooner rather than later.
If you’re in your mid-40s, you may think you have a few more years before you’ll need to be screened for colorectal cancer.
But, due to an alarming increase in colon cancer cases among younger patients, 45 is the new 50 when it comes to screening recommendations. While colon cancer rates among people over 50 have been steadily decreasing, the disease is affecting people at a younger and younger age. This trend has prompted several agencies and organizations to lower the recommended the screening age. The American College of Gastroenterology, the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force, The American Cancer Society and The U.S. Multi-Society Task Force on Colorectal Cancer have all endorsed the change.
Colon cancer is one of the most common cancers in the United States. Fortunately, it’s not only treatable if caught early, it’s also preventable with early screening. As the most thorough screening, colonoscopy is considered the gold standard. The entire colon and rectum are examined and any polyps detected are removed at that time, before cancer even develops. Colonoscopy, for adults at average risk, is only needed every 10 years.
If you think you may be at increased risk for colorectal cancer, speak with your doctor about when to begin screening, which test is right for you, and how often to get tested.
Who’s at Higher Risk
For those at average risk, 45 is the recommended screening age. However, the following factors may put you at a higher risk of developing colorectal cancer:
• Inflammatory bowel disease such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis.
• A personal or family history of colorectal cancer or colorectal polyps.
• A genetic syndrome such as familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) or Lynch syndrome.
• Jews of Eastern European descent (Ashkenazi Jews) and African Americans
Certain lifestyle factors may also increase risk, including:
• Lack of regular physical activity
• A diet low in fruit and vegetables
• A low-fiber and high-fat diet, or a diet high in processed meats
• Overweight and obesity
• Alcohol consumption
• Tobacco use
Know the Symptoms
Even if you’re not yet 45, it’s still important to know the symptoms of colorectal cancer. If you experience the following signs, contact your physician.
• A change in bowel habits, such as diarrhea, constipation, or narrowing of the stool, lasting more than a few days
• A feeling that you need to have a bowel movement that’s not relieved by having one
• Rectal bleeding
• Blood in the stool, which might make the stool look dark brown or black
• Cramping or pain in the abdomen
• Feeling tired or weak
• Losing weight without trying
With four convenient locations throughout Rhode Island, University Gastroenterology and University Endoscopy Group provide comprehensive gastrointestinal care in a patient-friendly setting. By using the newest medical technology and implementing the highest clinical standards, UGI physicians are dedicated to providing treatment for a wide array of gastrointestinal and liver diseases. universitygi.com • universityeg.com