Is it time for me to schedule a colonoscopy?
According to the American Cancer Society, colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in the US. While we have seen a drop in colorectal cancer cases since the 1980s, lifestyle and regular colonoscopy screenings may contribute. A colonoscopy is a diagnostic and preventive tool that examines the inside of the rectum and colon. It’s a beneficial tool everyone should undergo at some point during their lifetime. Here’s when a colonoscopy may be recommended,
You Turned 50
Was this year the big five-o? If so, you may have been told by your general doctor that you should start adding a colonoscopy to your preventive health routine. Since colorectal cancer risk increases with age, it’s essential that you don’t put this simple procedure off.
Healthy individuals at low risk for colorectal cancer will want to turn to their gastroenterologist at age 50 (unless your doctor tells you otherwise). Both men and women will need to undergo this preventive screening. If the results are normal, you won’t need to return for another routine colonoscopy for ten years.
You’re 45 with Risk Factors
Suppose you have risk factors predisposing you to colorectal cancer, such as a family history of cancer or a personal history of inflammatory bowel disease (e.g., Crohn’s disease or colitis). In that case, your gastroenterologist may recommend that you start getting routine colonoscopies beginning at age 45 (in some cases, they may even recommend age 40).
You Develop Digestive Problems
If you’ve noticed persistent bowel changes such as blood in the stool, weakness, fatigue, sudden weight loss and abdominal pain, these could all be signs of colorectal cancer. They can also be signs of other digestive problems that a colonoscopy can easily help your GI doctor detect.
A colonoscopy can help detect bleeds, obstructions, inflammation, infections, ulcers and more. We can even remove polyps, stop bleeds and remove obstructions during this procedure.
Remember, getting routine colonoscopies starting at age 50 (or earlier) could save your life. Call your gastroenterologist today to schedule an appointment and be proactive about your health.