Why 45 Is the New 50: Changes in Colonoscopy Guidelines


Despite whether you’ve had a screening or not, many adults have heard that 50 is the prime age for colonoscopy exams. The majority of healthcare providers recommend that their patients get their initial colonoscopy at age 50 and every ten years following. New research shows, however, that you should arrange to have your first colonoscopy exam even earlier than age 50.

So, when should you start scheduling colonoscopy exams, and why the change? GastroGroup and Endocenter is ready to answer your questions. Our board-certified gastroenterologists in Louisiana can answer all your questions about what you should anticipate during a colonoscopy, when to schedule one, and far more.

Why screen sooner?

In previous years, we’ve understood that 50 is the age we should begin screening for colon and rectal cancer. However, recent research studies demonstrate that perhaps we should begin screening for the disease even earlier – at age 45. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) are advising this. In addition, many insurance companies, even Medicare, have adjusted their plans to begin providing coverage for colonoscopies at this age in life.

Much of what has spurred this update stems from an elevation in the number of colorectal cancer diagnoses in younger patients. Between the years 2008 and 2017, the mortality rate among patients 55 years old and younger increased by 1%. This increase is a bit surprising given that the all-around colon and rectal cancer rates declined within that same time period.

In support of these new circumstances, our GastroGroup and Endocenter colonoscopy doctors advise getting a colon cancer screening with our Louisiana gastroenterology team as soon as you turn 45.

Why are colonoscopy screenings important for my health?

Most individuals are probably aware that having screenings for colon cancer is essential as we become older. This is because colorectal cancer can be found very early and even prevented with simple tests. Whether a member of your family has been diagnosed with colon cancer, you have been diagnosed with this disease, or you’re over that “ideal age,” colonoscopy screenings are a critical aspect of maintaining your general health.

These 15 – 30-minute exams permit our physicians to gain a clear, close-up view of your large intestine (colon). In the course of a colonoscopy screening, our specialists can look for abnormalities and remove any colorectal polyps, which can be forwarded to the lab for further evaluation. By taking out such polyps, our goal is to catch colorectal cancer while it's in an early stage, and hopefully prevent it altogether.

Am I at risk for colorectal cancer?

Now you know when you should begin having colorectal cancer screenings, but what are the risks? Some of the more common risk factors for colorectal cancer are:

  • Lack of physical activity
  • Poor nutritional habits, or a diet high in fatty foods and low in fruits, fiber, and vegetables
  • An inflammatory bowel disease such as Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis
  • Use of tobacco products
  • Family history of colorectal cancer
  • Prior radiation treatments to the abdomen or pelvis

If you carry one or more of these risk factors, we advise that you contact one of our Louisiana locations near you as early as possible to determine if you should schedule a colonoscopy.

Get your colonoscopy screening in Louisiana

We realize that the thought of having a colonoscopy exam might make you shudder, but this short, commonly performed, essential test could possibly save your life. Whether you’re 45 or older, we urge you to contact GastroGroup and Endocenter to schedule a colonoscopy consultation. At our modern gastroenterology centers in the Louisiana area, we endeavor to make these exams as quick and comfortable as possible. If you require assistance determining if your insurance covers colonoscopies, our team will be more than happy to assist.