Why 45 Is the New 50: Learn About Updates to Colonoscopy Guidelines


Whether they've undergone one or not, many people understand that 50 is the ideal age for colonoscopies. Most physicians suggest that patients schedule their first colonoscopy screening when they turn 50 and every ten years following. Recent research shows, however, that it's important to have your first colonoscopy screening even before reaching this age — at age 45.

You might be asking, why has this changed? Specialists in Gastroenterology is here to answer your questions. Our board-certified gastrointestinal doctors in St. Louis, MO can answer all your questions about what you should anticipate when having a colonoscopy, when to schedule this screening, and more.

Why screen for colon cancer sooner?

For years, we’ve understood that age 50 is when we should begin screening for colon cancer. However, recent studies indicate that perhaps we should start these screenings even sooner at age 45. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) are advising this. In addition, a number of insurance providers, even Medicare, have updated their policies to begin providing coverage for colonoscopies at this age in life.

Much of what has initiated this change stems from a rise in the number of colorectal cancer cases in younger individuals. Between 2008 and 2017, the death rate among individuals aged 55 and younger increased by 1%. This increase is a bit surprising when considering that the all-around colon and rectal cancer rates in fact declined during that particular range of time.

In line with these recent revelations, our Specialists in Gastroenterology team suggests getting a colon cancer screening with our St. Louis, MO gastroenterology doctors when you turn 45 years old.

Why are colonoscopy exams essential for my health?

Most people have likely heard that undergoing screenings for colon cancer is vital as we age. This is because colorectal cancer can be detected in the early stage and is commonly prevented with these regular exams. Regardless of whether a family member has experienced colorectal cancer, you have experienced this disease, or you've reached that “magic age,” colonoscopy screenings are an essential component of maintaining your overall health.

These 15 to 30-minute screenings permit our doctors to gain a clear, close-up view of your large intestine (colon). In the course of a colonoscopy screening, we can assess for abnormalities and excise any colon polyps, which can be forwarded to a laboratory for pathology testing. By extracting and testing any polyps, our objective is to find colon and rectal cancer at a very early stage, if not prevent it from developing altogether.

Who is at risk for colon cancer?

You are aware of the age to start undergoing colon cancer screenings, but what are the risks? Some of the more common risk factors for colon cancer include:

Should you have any of the factors mentioned above, we suggest that you contact your nearest Specialists in Gastroenterology location as soon as possible to learn if you should schedule a colonoscopy screening.

Schedule your colonoscopy screening in St. Louis, MO

We know that the idea of a colonoscopy exam may sound unappealing, but this short, commonly performed, vital test could likely be life-saving. Whether you’re 45 years old or on the brink of it, we urge you to contact Specialists in Gastroenterology to schedule a colonoscopy. At our leading gastroenterology centers in the St. Louis, MO area, we endeavor to make these screenings as comfortable and quick as possible. Should you have questions about whether your colonoscopy is covered by insurance, our caring team can help.

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