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If I have no family history, should I get a colonoscopy?

Yes! All men and women should be screened for colorectal cancer.

Colorectal cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer death in men and women combined and 1 in 20 people will be diagnosed in their lifetime. But the death rate (the number of deaths per 100,000 people per year) of colorectal cancer has been dropping for several decades. One reason for this is that colorectal polyps are now more often found by screening and removed before they can develop into cancers.

When colorectal cancer is found at an early stage before it has spread, the five-year relative survival rate is about 90%, but only about four out of 10 colorectal cancers are found at this early stage. When cancer has spread outside the colon or rectum, survival rates are lower.

Unfortunately, about one in three people in the US who should get tested for colorectal cancer have never been screened. Colonoscopy screenings are the most effective, but it is most important that everyone does some form of screening. Regular testing could save their lives from colorectal cancer.

Is Colorectal Cancer Hereditary?

Most cases of colon cancer and rectal cancer are not considered hereditary, meaning you inherited a mutated gene from a family member. When it comes to colorectal cancer:

  • 60-70% of cases are sporadic
  • 20-30% of cases are familial
  • 5-10% of cases are inherited/hereditary

Most cancer is sporadic, meaning you start with healthy genes and genetic mutations accumulate over time (typically due to age and environment).

It’s critical to know if anyone in your family has been diagnosed with cancer, what type, and at what age. Your risk is increased depending on how closely related you are and how old they were when they were diagnosed.

No matter which risk level you find yourself in, it’s important to remember that colorectal cancer is preventable!

45 or above? The time for a colonoscopy is now.

Gastroenterology Consultants of San Antonio (GCSA) accepts most insurances, including HMO, PPO, Medicare and Medicaid plans.

Colonoscopies typically receive excellent insurance coverage, and we accept a wide variety of plans to make screening for colorectal cancer affordable for as many people as possible. However, your plan may still require some out-of-pocket contribution. We offer CareCredit® and in-house financing to make sure you can access this important procedure. To learn more about insurance and financial policies, visit our FAQ.

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