If you are middle-aged, you may be wondering if you should schedule a colonoscopy. A colonoscopy is the gold standard for colorectal cancer screening. A colonoscopy is a medical test that examines your rectum and lower bowel for abnormalities and disease. The procedure involves doing a “prep,” which helps to empty your bowels completely for accurate viewing. During a colonoscopy, the doctor uses a lighted, flexible instrument to view the rectum and colon, and check for abnormalities that may point to cancer. As an added benefit, if the doctor finds precancerous polyps, they can also be removed during the colonoscopy procedure.
The most frequently asked questions about colonoscopy are when and how often colonoscopy should a be performed? And usually the answer is: it depends.
Below are the factors that our Ocean Family Gastroenterology medical experts will consider before making recommendations on when and how often you should schedule a colonoscopy.
Your risk for colorectal cancer increases with age. According to The American Cancer Society, men and women who are at average risk for colorectal cancer should start getting a colonoscopy beginning at the age of 45 and schedule another exam after 10 years.
According to The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force regular screenings are crucial for early detection of polyps and the prevention of colorectal cancer. They suggest that colon cancer screening should start at the age of 45, continuing until the age of 75 to get substantial benefit. Similar to recommendations made by The American Cancer Society, a colonoscopy should be performed every 10 years for patients with average risk.
In the interim, stool-based tests may be recommended for patients to check for possible signs of precancerous polyps or colorectal cancer.
Family History and High-Risk Health Conditions
Recommendations by health agencies change depending on patient risk. High-risk patients are those who have a family or personal history of colorectal cancer, precancerous polyps, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, diverticulitis and a history of radiation therapy directed in the abdominal or pelvic region.
If you are in any of these high-risk groups, screening may start as early as the age of 40, or 10 years earlier than the age of the family member diagnosed with colorectal cancer and should be performed more frequently.
If one or more first-degree relatives have been diagnosed with colorectal cancer before the age of 60, your doctor may recommend you schedule a colonoscopy every five years.
Once patients reach the age of 75, the decision to continue getting colonoscopies is a personal one. Doctors usually help patients make a decision by considering their overall health and life expectancy. Patients who are over the age of 85 are no longer recommended to get a colonoscopy.
Schedule a Colonoscopy in Toms River, NJ
At Ocean Family Gastroenterology in Toms River, we regularly perform colonoscopies as part of colon cancer screening. We rate high in adenoma detection rate compared to national benchmarks, which speaks to the quality and accuracy of our tests.
If you have worries and concerns about this life-saving screening procedure, do not hesitate to contact us. Our team is compassionate, and we have empathy for our patients. We strive to make the experience as comfortable and relaxing as possible. Contact us today at (732) 281-1590 or online HERE.