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Colon Cancer Screening Age Lowered
June 28, 2018
The American Cancer Society (ACS) has recently released updated guidelines that lower the recommended age for colon cancer screening. According to the new ACS recommendations, those at average risk for colon cancer should begin screening at age 45 instead of 50. The new guidelines were put in place following a major data review that showed a rising rate of colon cancer in adults younger than 50.
The updated guidelines also state that those at higher than average risk may need to begin screening prior to age 45, and more frequently and/or with specific tests. However, it is important to remember that colon cancer does not discriminate and can happen to men and women at any age.
There are several methods available for colon cancer screening, including colonoscopies.
“A colonoscopy is a vital screening method with potentially lifesaving benefits,” says Paul Levy, MD, a colorectal surgeon at Haywood Regional Medical Center. “Colonoscopies can improve our ability to detect colorectal cancer quickly and early, which makes this disease much more easily treatable. We recommend that everyone talk to their doctor about their colorectal cancer risks and discuss which tests could be right for them and the appropriate timing.”
In addition to regular screenings, you can also help prevent colon cancer by living a healthy lifestyle that includes daily exercise, a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight, limiting your alcohol intake and eliminating smoking. These practices can reduce your risk for colorectal and many other forms of cancer. Knowing your family’s medical history is also important – a history of the disease in your immediate family puts you at a higher risk for the disease.
What to Expect During a Colonoscopy
Colonoscopies are an easier procedure than many realize. Shortly before the procedure, you will likely be given pain medication and a sedative to minimize discomfort. During the approximately 30-minute procedure, any polyps found will be removed by the doctor, and tissue samples will be sent for a biopsy. Keep in mind that you will be instructed to follow a special diet the day before your procedure and will need to have someone take you home afterward.