Over 50? It May be Time for a Colonoscopy!
Colorectal cancer is one of the most commonly diagnosed cancers in the US, and it is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths. The risk of developing colorectal cancer increases with age. In fact, more than 90% of cases occur in people age 50 years and older. If everyone were screened regularly beginning at age 50, as many as 60% of deaths from this cancer could be avoided, since screening tests can find and remove precancerous polyps before they become malignant. And if colorectal cancer is detected early, treatment is more likely to be of benefit.
Leading national organizations, including the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Cancer Society, and the National Cancer Institute recommend regular colorectal cancer screening tests beginning at age 50. People who have had colorectal polyps, colorectal cancer, or inflammatory bowel disease, or who have close relatives with colorectal polyps or colorectal cancer, may need to begin colorectal cancer screening before age 50 and be screened more frequently. The US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends that all people be screened regularly for colorectal cancer until they reach 75 years of age, and in certain cases should continue to be screened beyond age 75. Screening tests recommended include:
- High-sensitivity fecal occult blood test (FOBT)
What is a Colonoscopy?
The colonoscopy is considered the gold-standard test for finding colon cancer. A colonoscope is a long tube is that allows the doctor to see the lining of the entire colon. This is the most thorough exam; it may cause discomfort, but does not usually cause pain. Patients are given a sedative to make them feel relaxed and sleepy during the screening, which takes 15-30 minutes. Beginning at age 50, a colonoscopy should be performed every 10 years.
If you are worried about the hospital cost—don’t be. Under the new healthcare reform laws, colon cancer screenings are now starting to be covered in full without your having to meet a deductible or pay a co-pay. Same is true if you are on Medicare. Plus there are no additional co-payments if a polyp is discovered and removed.
Find a doctor who performs colonoscopies at Silver Cross Hospital. Call 1-888-660-HEAL (4325).