An increase in the frequency of colonoscopies as you get older has been shown to reduce your risk of developing late-stage colorectal cancer by up to 60%. You should also talk with your doctor about what type of screenings are available based on your family’s history or other health concerns, how often they should be performed, and how long before a test you need to prepare.
Seeking treatment sooner rather than later may help prevent worsening symptoms from progressing into cancer.
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) has updated their guidelines for colorectal cancer screening, recommending that people over 45 should be screened with colonoscopy every ten years.
Those between ages 50-75 can also get a fecal test once every five years or a CT scan of the abdomen/pelvis just once every five years if they have an increased risk factor like family history, pancreatitis, inflammatory bowel disease, or chronic kidney disease.
The USPSTF made this decision based on evidence showing how often getting a colonoscopy reduces your risk of developing late-stage colorectal cancer.
Colon cancer screening tests are recommended for people over 45.
Recent studies have found a link between age and colorectal cancer development, so it’s important to get screened regularly.
In this article, we’ll talk about why you should be getting tested more often as you get older, what types of screenings are available, and how to prepare for your colonoscopy appointment.
Colon Cancer Screening Tests
One type of screening test is a colonoscopy, which involves inserting a tube with a camera to inspect the inside of your large intestine. This procedure needs to be done by an experienced medical professional and requires anesthesia so that you’re awake but relaxed during the examination.
Another option is getting screened with fecal occult blood testing (FOBT) or stool DNA testing for polyps; these tests are available over-the-counter at most pharmacies and don’t require expensive technicians like colonoscopies do.
These colon cancer screening tests can typically be done anywhere and don’t require an expensive medical facility, making them more convenient for many people. It’s worth noting, however, that these types of screening tests can’t detect cancerous polyps in the colon or rectum.
American Cancer Society Testing Recommendations
The American Cancer Society also recommends that adults of all ages get screened for colorectal cancer starting at age 45. Screening should be done every three years. This is a change from the previous recommendation to begin colonoscopy screenings only after 50. However, it’s important to discuss with your doctor what’s best in your situation.
The General Guidelines
Screening should start as early as possible–as soon as you turn 20 if you’re African-American or develop any other risk factors such as inflammatory bowel disease or polyps (small growths) on your intestine during routine physical examination.
Suppose you have no family history of colon cancer but have one or more risk factors like smoking, obesity, or a chronic inflammatory disease. In that case, the guidelines also recommend screening at age 40.
Screening should be done every five years after you turn 50 and continue until you reach 75 if no other risk factors are present. If your doctor recommends getting screened sooner than recommended based on a family history of colon cancer, that’s perfectly acceptable too.
Preparing for Colon Cancer Screenings
You should always talk about any medications you might be taking before your appointment because certain drugs can interfere with screenings. It’s also important to avoid eating anything after midnight the night before the test. And don’t forget to drink plenty of fluids, especially if you take drugs that can cause constipation and dehydration, like painkillers or anti-inflammatory medications.
If you’re feeling well on the day of your screening, it’s still a good idea to bring someone with you if anything goes wrong so they can help advocate for your care.
Remember not to go home after going through treatment because there is always some risk that something might happen at home when no one else is around. Call an ambulance immediately if you experience chest pains, stop breathing or if you have a seizure.
The actual colonoscopy is a medical procedure that allows the doctor to see the inside of your large intestine, rectum, and anal canal. It can detect cancerous changes in these areas before they become life-threatening.
This screening takes about 45 minutes on average, although it varies depending on individual circumstances such as weight or other health factors.
The patient will be sedated during the test, so he/she feels no discomfort while the doctor examines them with an endoscope inserted through their anus into their intestines. After which, biopsies are taken from any suspicious growths for analysis under a microscope (if needed).
Don’t hesitate to bring up any questions before the procedure, and always let your nurse know how you’re feeling during the screening so they can accommodate for it.
Do not eat any solid foods at least 24 hours before your scheduled appointment, and avoid anything after midnight on that day. Drink plenty of fluids throughout the morning because some medications like anti-inflammatory drugs can cause constipation and dehydration, which could affect results in screenings such as colonoscopies where fluid is needed to cleanse intestines.
Some people may wait until they are 50 years old or older before scheduling their first colon cancer screening – but if you’re over 45 – now would be an excellent time to schedule your appointment with your doctor!
If there has been any family history of colorectal cancers, this is also a good reason why one should get screened early on in life – so early detection can occur.
Many people are nervous about colon cancer screenings. Still, if you prepare and follow instructions from your doctor or nurse, it should be as easy as possible to complete your colonoscopy screening.
The best way of preventing cancer is being proactive about maintaining good health with regular checks from one’s doctor. Colon cancer can be detected early at screenings and treated more effectively, so it is essential to get tested early for your health and peace of mind. One of those proactive choices will probably include getting a colonoscopy screening done as soon as possible.