Doctor’s Orders: Start Colorectal Cancer Screening at Age 45

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Recommended cancer screenings, like colonoscopy, help save lives by catching cancer early. We use these preventive screenings to help keep your health and your life on track, so you can continue to feel strong for years to come.

AdventHealth colorectal surgeon Matthew Albert, MD, advises, “It’s important to talk to your doctor on a regular basis about personalizing a colorectal cancer screening plan because recommendations can change over time based on your risk factors and scientific discoveries about how colorectal cancer is affecting the population.”

Case in point, the American Cancer Society changed its recommendations relatively recently for colorectal cancer screenings and now encourage colorectal cancer screenings at a younger age.

Why Did the Screening Recommendation Change?

The American Cancer Society reviewed records of more than 500,000 people with colorectal cancer. In their research, they discovered that more young people are developing colorectal cancer than ever before.

Dr. Albert explains, “To help detect these cancers as early as possible, they recommended moving the screening to age 45, instead of age 50, even among people with an average risk of cancer.”

Types of Colorectal Cancer Screenings

There are two different screenings for colorectal cancer.

You can have a stool-based test that looks for signs of cancer in your stool. For this test, you will put a stool sample in a special container and mail it to a lab for examination. If there are signs of cancer, you’ll need a colonoscopy. This test should be repeated every one to three years.

Or, your doctor might recommend a colonoscopy, which is considered to be the gold standard in cancer screening. These screenings allow your doctor to examine your colon and rectum as well as remove any polyps for biopsy. Colonoscopies are simple and painless and can provide you with peace of mind about your health.

If your colonoscopy shows no signs of cancer, you likely won’t need to have one again for 10 years.

Why Colorectal Cancer Screenings are Important

Colorectal cancer rates are on the rise, and while treatments are improving, there’s no substitute for early detection.

“Many colorectal cancers don’t cause symptoms until they have already grown large or spread to other parts of your body, becoming stage III or stage IV cancers. These cancers require more invasive, aggressive treatment and have lower survival rates than stage I cancers,” according to Dr. Albert.

He adds, “A colonoscopy can detect colon cancer in stage I or even in pre-cancerous stages. At these early stages, you may only need a simple surgery to remove polyps instead of surgery and chemotherapy — and will have the best possible chance at remission and survival.”

Schedule Your Screening Today

Early detection is key to protecting your life and helping you stay healthy for years to come. Schedule your screening today to help protect your whole health.

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