It’s a minor inconvenience with a potentially life-saving benefit. Although there are several ways to screen for colorectal cancer, screening with colonoscopy has consistently proven to decrease the risk of death from the second leading cause of cancer death in the U.S. and 10% of cancer deaths overall. Because colonoscopy allows the physician performing the procedure to detect and remove pre-cancerous polyps, the procedure can eliminate that polyp’s risk of becoming cancerous. Colonoscopy is a safe and relatively painless examination that most often requires less than 30 minutes to complete.
Guidelines for Colorectal Screening
Routine colorectal cancer screening should begin at age 50 and continue until
life expectancy is less than 10 years (or to 75-85 years of age at the latest).
African Americans appear to be at increased risk of colorectal cancer and
should initiate screening at the age of 45.
People with an increased risk of colon cancer based on such variables as listed below will often require screening at an earlier age and have to undergo more frequent screening compared to those at average risk. You are in this higher-risk category if you have
- A personal history of colorectal cancer or colon polyps
- A family history of colorectal cancer or genetic syndrome predisposing to an increased risk
- Inflammatory bowel disease