New Colonoscopy Screening Age Guidelines

When to Get a Colonoscopy

March is Colon Cancer Awareness month, this means there is no better time to discuss the important of getting screened, and why these new colonoscopy screening age guidelines are in place. 

First, we all know we should get a colonoscopy. But some of us don’t really know why. For starters, colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in both men and women in the United States. That means that you have about a 1 in 22 chance of developing colorectal cancer. 

The good news? If found early enough, colorectal cancer is one of the most treatable and survivable cancers. This is because the treatment for colorectal cancer has improved over the last few decades. According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), this means there are more than 1 million survivors of colorectal cancer in the United States – but only for those who get screened. 

You may have heard that there is new colonoscopy screening age guidelines. So what does this mean for you? The new guidelines suggest that screenings should begin at age 45 for people who are at an average risk. Before these new recommendations, the age for screenings was 50. 

What Does it Mean to Be Average Risk?

You have an average risk of developing colon cancer if you do not have:

  • A personal history of colorectal cancer or certain types of polyps
  • A family history of colorectal cancer
  • A personal history of inflammatory bowel disease (ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease)
  • A confirmed or suspected hereditary colorectal cancer syndrome, such as familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) or Lynch syndrome (hereditary non-polyposis colon cancer or HNPCC)
  • A personal history of getting radiation to the abdomen (belly) or pelvic area to treat a prior cancer

New Colonoscopy Screening Age Guidelines

After much research and data analysis, the American Cancer Society (ACS) lowered the colonoscopy screening age as they were seeing a higher number of new cases of colorectal cancer in younger adults. The ACS also suggests sticking to the following screening recommendations:  

  • People at average risk of colorectal cancer should start regular screening at age 45.
  • People who are in good health and with a life expectancy of more than 10 years should continue regular colorectal cancer screening through the age of 75.
  • People ages 76 through 85 should make a decision with their medical provider about whether to be screened, based on their own personal preferences, life expectancy, overall health, and prior screening history.
  • People over 85 should no longer get colorectal cancer screening. 

Now that you understand the main reason for the change, what are you waiting for? It’s important to know that it’s normal to feel nervous, or uncomfortable about getting your screening. But remember that the benefits of the test far exceed any worries you may have!

If you fall into the new colonoscopy screening age range, or if you are overdue for one, please feel free to contact the office of one of our compassionate and friendly gastroenterologists today. They can help answer any questions you may have, and get you scheduled for your annual exam.

Office of Dr. Martin Beerman, Dr. Lawrence McCormack & Dr. David Hykes

703 Tyler Street, Suite 151
Phone: 419-627-0207