When Is a Colonoscopy Necessary?

Colorectal cancer affects both men and women. Like many cancers, the likelihood of successful treatment is much higher when colon cancer is found early. In fact, early detection results in a 90% survival rate.

A colonoscopy is the most effective screening method for colon cancer, so it’s important to know when the best time is to be screened. Gastroenterology specialist Dr. Vikram S. Jayanty can answer all of your questions and concerns regarding colon health and colon cancer screening.

Let’s dive into more detail about colonoscopy.

Colonoscopy exam

A colonoscopy is designed to detect cancerous growths in the colon. It can also detect abnormal cells and polyps that may be likely to develop into colon cancer in the future.

During a colonoscopy, Dr. Jayanty inspects the large intestine and rectum using a flexible tube with a camera attached. Patients are kept sedated during the procedure for comfort. Dr. Jayanty removes any abnormal growths found during the colonoscopy and sends them to the lab for analysis.

Guidelines for colon cancer screening

Because adults are developing colon cancer at younger ages, the recommendation for when to begin screening for people who are at average risk is age 45. It was previously recommended that you start screening for colon cancer at age 50.

Continue your colorectal screenings until you’re 75 years old. When you reach 75-85, you should get a screening based on specific medical advice. After the age of 85, screening is no longer required.

Screen earlier if you have risk factors

People who are at a higher risk of developing colon cancer benefit from earlier screening. If you have any of the following symptoms, you should be checked for colon cancer before the age of 45:

  • A history of high-risk polyps
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • A family history of colorectal cancer
  • Any condition that raises colon cancer risk

Additionally, radiation to the abdomen increases the risk of colon cancer. If you’ve had radiation to the abdomen, discuss screening for colon cancer with Dr. Jayanty. Based on your specific medical history and health status, he can make personalized screening recommendations.

How frequently should you have a colonoscopy?

Most of the time, colon cancer grows slowly. If your colonoscopy finds no polyps or abnormal growths, and you’re at average risk, you can screen every 10 years.

If your colonoscopy reveals low-risk colon polyps, you should schedule a colonoscopy every five years.

People with high-risk polyps or abnormal growths require screenings more frequently than once every five years. Dr. Jayanty will explain how often you should screen.

Make colon health a priority

Screening is the best way to detect colon cancer early, yet millions of Americans fail to get a colonoscopy. In most cases, colon cancer is silent during the early stages. This means you may not have symptoms to alert you to trouble.

Symptoms often begin once colon cancer has progressed to an advanced stage, and by then it’s more difficult to treat, and the chances of survival are lower. That’s why it’s vital to work with a gastroenterology specialist to assess your risk, schedule screenings, and stay abreast of your colon health.

Even if you’re in perfect health, it’s critical to follow recommended colorectal screening protocols. Don't put off your colonoscopy. If you’re in the Houston, Texas, area, call our office to schedule a visit with Dr. Jayanty today.

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