45 Is the New 50: Explore Changes in Colonoscopy Guidelines


Whether you’ve undergone a screening or not, many people know that 50 is the prime age for colonoscopy screenings. The majority of doctors advise that their patients schedule their first colonoscopy exam upon turning 50 and then every ten years following that. Recent studies indicate, however, that you should plan to undergo your first colonoscopy exam even earlier.

You might be asking, when should you begin getting colonoscopies, and why has this timeframe changed? Lubbock Digestive Disease Associates is ready to answer all of your questions. Our board-certified gastroenterologists in Lubbock, TX can answer all your questions about what to expect when having a colonoscopy, when to schedule this screening, and so much more.

Start screening earlier?

In previous years, we’ve known that 50 is the age we should begin having screenings for colon and rectal cancer. However, recent studies demonstrate that we should probably start the screening process even before then – upon turning 45. In fact, the USPSTF (United States Preventive Services Task Force) and the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) are advising it. In addition, many insurance providers, even Medicare, have modified their policies to start covering colonoscopy exams at age 45.

This change stems from a growth in the number of colorectal cancer cases among younger adults. Between the years of 2008 and 2017, the mortality rate among patients 55 and younger rose by 1%. Such an increase comes as a bit of a shock since the all-around colon and rectal cancer rates declined within that same period.

In line with these recent circumstances, our colonoscopy doctors advise having a colon cancer screening with our Lubbock, TX gastroenterology team when you turn 45 years old.

Why are colonoscopies essential for my health?

Most of us are likely aware that undergoing colorectal cancer screenings is crucial in our older years. The reason for this is because colorectal cancer can be found in the early stage and even avoided with these routine exams. Whether a member of your family has been diagnosed with colon cancer, you have had colon cancer, or you’re over that “magic age,” colonoscopies are a vital part of managing your general health.

Taking about 15 – 30 minutes to complete, these screenings allow our providers to gain a clear, comprehensive view of your large intestine (colon). When providing a colonoscopy exam, we can look for irregularities and remove any colon polyps, which can be sent to the lab for testing. By extracting any polyps, our objective is to catch colon cancer while it's in an early stage, and hopefully prevent further development.

Am I at risk for colon and rectal cancer?

So now you are aware of when you should start having colon cancer screenings, but what might increase your risk for the disease? Some common risk factors for colon cancer are:

  • Use of tobacco products
  • Prior radiation treatments to the abdomen or pelvis
  • Poor dietary habits, or a diet high in fatty foods and low in vegetables, fiber, and fruits
  • An inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) such as Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis
  • Family history of colon cancer
  • Lack of exercise

Should you have one or more of the risk factors listed above, we suggest that you reach out to your nearest Lubbock Digestive Disease Associates location as early as you can to learn if you should have a colonoscopy exam.

Schedule your colonoscopy screening in Lubbock, TX

We understand that the thought of having a colonoscopy exam may seem embarrassing; however, this fast, noninvasive, essential test could potentially save lives. Whether you’re 45 or around that age, we encourage you to contact Lubbock Digestive Disease Associates to request a colonoscopy. At our modern gastroenterology centers in the Lubbock, TX area, we aim to make these tests as comfortable and quick as possible. Should you have questions about whether your colonoscopy is covered by insurance, our office staff will be pleased to assist.

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