Colonoscopies are recommended to people mostly because of age. Doctors commonly recommend colonoscopies for anyone over the age of 50. However, there are also some other factors that should be considered to help you determine whether you need a colonoscopy.
What is a Colonoscopy?
A colonoscopy is a type of exam that can help determine whether a person has colon cancer. The procedure usually lasts no longer than an hour, and if the results come back negative for colon cancer, you may not need another colonoscopy for the next 10 years.
Who Needs it?
Both men and women over the age of 50 should get a colonoscopy as a general rule. However there are some cases in which a person should get a colonoscopy earlier.
- If colon cancer runs in the family: If you have a family history of colon cancer, your risk of developing colon cancer is higher. Therefore, your doctor may recommend that you get a colonoscopy before the age of 50.
- If you are African American: Because the likelihood of developing colon cancer is higher for African American, doctors often recommend that they get a colonoscopy at age 45.
- If you have certain other conditions: Earlier colonoscopies are often recommended for people who have certain hereditary conditions. Talk to your doctor about whether a hereditary condition puts you at a higher risk of developing colon cancer.
There are certain symptoms you should be aware of that may indicate you have colon cancer:
- Change in bowel habits
- Blood in stool
- Abdominal pain or discomfort
- Weight loss
If you notice any of these symptoms in yourself, talk to your doctor immediately about whether having a colonoscopy would be beneficial to help find the cause of these symptoms.
Why is it important?
Ultimately, it’s always good to know how to better monitor your health and prevent problems. A colonoscopy allows doctors to recognize if you have cancer or if cancer is developing. Detecting any concerns early on is extremely helpful for determining the best course of treatment to ensure you stay your healthiest.