The collective general health may have taken a backseat to the pandemic, but now it’s time to catch up, and a colonoscopy is a great step toward that wellness goal. Colorectal cancers claim more than 52,000 lives each year in the United States, a number that has been steadily declining over the past several decades in large part due to colonoscopy screenings.
The goal of our team at Rockwall Surgical Specialists is to see that number come down even lower, which is why we recommend regular colonoscopies. To help you determine whether this is the year to have a colonoscopy, we’ve pulled together some general rules of thumb for this important cancer screening.
If you’ve never had a colonoscopy, we recommend that you get your first at age 45. There are times when you may benefit from earlier screening, especially if you have a family history of colorectal cancer or if you have certain medical conditions, like inflammatory bowel disease or ulcerative colitis.
If you have any questions about your unique circumstances and whether you should have a colonoscopy sooner rather than later, we can help you determine your risks and an appropriate colonoscopy schedule.
If you’ve reached the age of 45, you have no known risks, and you haven’t had your colonoscopy yet, this year is the year to get it done.
Because most colorectal cancers are slow-growing, we recommend that people undergo screening every 10 years between the ages of 45 and 75. This 10-year schedule applies only if your previous screenings were relatively clean.
During your colonoscopy, we locate and remove any suspicious polyps in your colon. We then biopsy these polyps to determine if any abnormal cells are present. If we find none, you can stick to the 10-year schedule.
If we find the presence of abnormal cells during a biopsy, however, we may recommend a follow-up colonoscopy sooner than 10 years. The results of this subsequent colonoscopy helps dictate your schedule moving forward.
So, getting back to the original question posed in the title of this blog, if you’re at your 10-year mark, it’s time to schedule your colonoscopy with us. If we determined, based on your last colonoscopy results, that you need another screening in five years and that time has come, please call us to schedule your appointment as soon as possible.
Because colorectal cancers are mostly slow-growing, we don’t recommend undergoing a colonoscopy after age 85. If you’re between the ages of 75 and 85, we recommend this type of screening if you’re healthy and have a life expectancy of more than 10 years.
These colonoscopy guidelines are just that — guidelines. For a more specific screening schedule based on your needs and your health, contact us at one of our offices in Rowlett, Rockwall, Greenville, Terrell, or Forney, Texas, to set up a consultation.