45 Is the New 50: Learn About Changes in Colonoscopy Guidelines


Whether you’ve had a screening or not, many adults have heard that 50 is the magic number for colonoscopies. The majority of physicians recommend that their patients have their first colonoscopy exam upon turning 50 and every ten years following. Recent studies indicate, however, that you should plan to have your first colonoscopy screening even earlier than that.

So, when should you start getting colonoscopy procedures, and why the change? Denver Digestive Health Specialists is ready to answer any questions you may have. Our team of gastrointestinal specialists in Denver, CO can provide detailed information on what to anticipate when having a colonoscopy, when you should get this exam, and so much more.

Begin screening sooner?

In previous years, we’ve understood that 50 is the age we should start having screenings for colon cancer. But new research shows that perhaps we should start screening for the disease even earlier — upon turning age 45. In fact, the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are recommending this. In addition, many insurance providers, including Medicare, have adjusted their policies to begin covering colonoscopy exams at age 45.

Much of what has initiated this change results from a growth in the number of colorectal cancer cases in younger people. Between 2008 and 2017, the mortality rate in individuals 55 years old and younger increased by 1%. Such an increase comes as a bit of a shock given that the all-around colon and rectal cancer rates dropped during that same range of time.

In line with these recent circumstances, our colonoscopy doctors recommend undergoing a colon cancer screening with our Denver, CO gastroenterology team when you turn 45 years old.

Why are colonoscopies essential for my health?

Most of us are likely aware that having colon cancer screenings is important in our older years. The reason for this is because colon cancer can be identified early on and often avoided with these simple tests. Whether a member of your family has had colorectal cancer, you have experienced colon cancer, or you've reached that “ideal age,” colonoscopy screenings are an essential aspect of managing your overall health.

These 15 to 30-minute exams at Denver Digestive Health Specialists permit our providers to gain a comprehensive, close-up view of your colon. Throughout a colonoscopy exam, we can assess for irregularities and remove any colon polyps, which can then be sent to the lab for pathology testing. By removing such polyps, our objective is to detect colorectal cancer at the initial stage, if not prevent it from developing altogether.

Who is at risk for colon cancer?

So now you know when you should start undergoing colon cancer screenings, but what factors increase your chance of developing this disease? Common risk factors for colon cancer development include the following:

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

If you have any of these risk factors, we suggest that you contact a Denver Digestive Health Specialists location near you as early as possible to learn if you are a candidate for a colonoscopy screening.

Schedule a colonoscopy screening in Denver, CO

We realize that the thought of having a colonoscopy might sound unappealing; however, this quick, noninvasive, vital examination can virtually be life-saving. Whether you've turned 45 or are soon to be, you should contact Denver Digestive Health Specialists to request a colonoscopy consultation. At our state-of-the-art gastroenterology centers in the Denver, CO area, we do our best to make these tests as fast and comfortable as possible. Should you have questions about whether your colonoscopy is covered by insurance, we will be pleased to assist.

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