BY DEAN PAPPAS M.D.
The team here at Colon & Rectal Surgical Specialists of New York believes in preventative care and early detection. That is why our team of experienced colorectal specialists always emphasize the importance of regular colonoscopies. Regular checks for colorectal cancer can save lives.
With that in mind, we would like to consider the right age to begin regular colorectal screenings. As you are about to read, the issue of age really has a lot to do with the specific health needs of the patient.
What Is a Colonoscopy?
A colonoscopy is a crucial screening performed to detect polyps and cancerous growths of the bowel. It’s one of the most effective means of detecting colorectal cancer and initiating treatment. During the procedure, a colorectal specialist is able check for abnormal growths, take tissue samples, and help enact preventative care or proactive treatment.
When Should People Start Getting Regular Colonoscopies?
It’s been estimated that 1 in 20 Americans will be diagnosed with colocrectal cancer in their lifetimes. Keep in mind that cancer is the leading cause of death in people age 65 and older, and colorectal cancer is treatable with early detection.
In the vast majority of cases, people should start getting a colonoscopy starting at age 50. By a person’s 60s, regular screening should be underway.
How Often Should I Undergo a Colonoscopy?
For most people, a colonoscopy should be performed every 10 years. If patients show a higher risk of developing colorectal cancer, a colonoscopy may be recommended every 5 years. This can be discussed with your general practitioner during your physical.
Colonoscopies and the Young: When Is a Screening Necessary?
Sometimes people who are younger than age 50 will undergo regular colorectal cancer screenings. In these cases, the patient may have a heightened risk of colorectal cancer, such as a family history of the condition. If a person suffers from inflammatory bowel disease (e.g., Crohn’s, ulcerative colitis), early colonoscopies may be recommended as well.
Colonoscopies and the Elderly: Is There an Age Limit?
There has been some debate regarding if patients in their 80s should undergo colonoscopies. The concern is that there may be negative effects on an elderly patient’s health from frequent colonoscopies.
The fact of the matter is that this has to be considered on a case to case basis. Sometimes patients who are 75 or older will not need to undergo additional colonoscopies, though this is if they are healthy, have no family risk of the condition, and have exhibited no risk factors (e.g., polyps) in previous colonoscopies. If there is a potential risk of colorectal cancer present into a patient’s mid-70s, screening should continue.
Early Detection and Treatment Is Always Best
We want to stress again that early detection is a key to successfully treating colorectal cancer. We encourage you to meet with us if you are due for a colorectal cancer screening or you have concerns about family risk. We will be able to discuss the procedure in greater detail and offer our medical advice regarding long-term preventative care and lifestyle improvements.
Contact Colon & Rectal Surgical Specialists of New York
For more information about your medical needs later in life and how our team of doctors can help you, be sure to contact our team of colon and rectal surgery specialists today. The doctors of Colon & Rectal Surgical Specialists of New York are here to help address your health concerns and needs.