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Colonoscopy Age: When You Need Screening

Colonoscopy Age

As we age, screenings become important for maintaining our health and detecting diseases early on when treatment can be most effective. One of these important screening tests is a colonoscopy.

The recommended age for a routine colonoscopy screening used to be 50. However, with recent trends in the onset of colon cancer, this guideline has been updated to 45.

What Is a Colonoscopy?

A colonoscopy is a medical procedure that allows doctors to examine the inner lining of your large intestine (colon).

A gastroenterologist uses a thin, flexible tube equipped with a small camera to look for abnormalities. Polyps, small growths that can potentially develop into cancer, can be located and removed during this process.

When Should You Get Screened?

Updates to colorectal cancer screening guidelines have led to some important changes, including dropping the age for your first screening.

Screenings should begin at age 45 for individuals at average risk. Those with a family history of colon cancer or other risk factors may start screening earlier, as advised by their doctor. Some of these reasons include:

  • A personal history of previous colon cancer or polyps.
  • Having a genetic syndrome, like Lynch syndrome and familial adenomatous polyposis.
  • Being diagnosed with inflammatory bowel diseases, like Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis.

Preparing for Your Colonoscopy

Preparing your colon is important so the doctor can see the lining clearly. This means you’ll need to follow a special diet and take laxatives the day before your procedure.

A liquid diet is a key part of this prep. It includes liquids and foods that are clear, colorless, and free from any solids. A clear diet means you can have things like:

  • Chicken or vegetable broth
  • Tea or coffee without milk or cream
  • Juices like apple or white grape juice
  • Colorless sports drinks
  • Gelatin without any fruit or cream
  • Plain popsicles

You will also need to take laxatives as directed by your doctor. These help to empty your colon.

While colonoscopy prep might not be the most pleasant, it’s needed for an accurate and thorough screening. A clean and clear colon allows your doctor to spot any issues more easily.

What to Expect During the Procedure

A colonoscopy is an outpatient procedure, meaning you’ll go home the same day. It’s usually performed under sedation, so you won’t feel pain. The procedure itself takes about 30-60 minutes, during which the doctor will examine your colon and possibly remove polyps or take biopsies for further analysis.

The Gold Standard for Colon Cancer Prevention

Colon cancer is preventable and highly treatable when detected early. Colonoscopy remains the gold standard for colon cancer screening. It’s diagnostic and therapeutic, meaning this method helps find polyps and removes them, stopping them from becoming cancer.

A colonoscopy is a critical health screening that shouldn’t be overlooked. With recent recommendations for earlier screening, it’s important to ask your doctor when to schedule your colonoscopy.

Remember, this procedure can be lifesaving, offering peace of mind and playing a critical role in your future health.

And if you are already 45 or older and haven’t had your first colonoscopy, it’s time! Schedule an appointment today!

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