45 Is the New 50: Explore Updates to Colonoscopy Guidelines


Whether you’ve scheduled one or not, you've likely heard that 50 is the ideal age for a colonoscopy screening. The majority of medical providers recommend that their patients have their initial colonoscopy when they turn 50 and every ten years thereafter. New research indicates, however, that you should plan to have your initial colonoscopy screening even earlier than age 50.

You might be asking, when should you begin having colonoscopy exams and why has this timeframe changed? Adult Gastroenterology Associates is here to answer all of your questions. Our board-certified gastrointestinal specialists in Tulsa, OK can provide detailed information on what to anticipate when having a colonoscopy, when you should undergo this screening, and more.

Why screen sooner?

For years, people have heard that turning 50 marks the time when they should begin screening exams for colon cancer. But new studies demonstrate that we should probably begin the screening process even sooner – at age 45. In fact, the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and USPSTF (United States Preventive Services Task Force) are recommending it. In addition, a number of insurance companies, even Medicare, have augmented their plans to start providing coverage for colonoscopies at this earlier age.

Much of what initiated this update results from an elevation in the number of colon cancer cases among younger patients. Between 2008 and 2017, the death rate in individuals 55 and younger rose by 1%. This increase is a bit surprising since the overall colorectal cancer rates dropped within that same period of time.

In keeping with these findings, our Adult Gastroenterology Associates colonoscopy doctors suggest having a colon cancer screening with our Tulsa, OK team once you turn 45.

Why are colonoscopy screenings essential for your health?

You're likely aware that undergoing screenings for colon cancer is imperative as you get older. The reason for this is that colon cancer can be caught in the early stage and commonly prevented with these simple screenings. Whether a family member has had colorectal cancer, you've been diagnosed with colon cancer, or you've reached that “magic age,” colonoscopy exams are a critical part of preserving your general health.

These 15- to 30-minute screenings allow our physicians to gain a comprehensive, close-up view of your colon. In the course of this screening, we can look for irregularities and excise any growths (polyps), which can be forwarded to a laboratory for in-depth evaluation. By removing any polyps, we endeavor to catch colon and rectal cancer at a very early stage and hopefully prevent it from developing altogether.

What are the risk factors for colon and rectal cancer?

So now you know the age to start undergoing colon cancer screenings, but what are the risks for this disease? Some of the more common risk factors for colon cancer include:

  • Family history of colon cancer
  • Prior radiation treatments to the abdominal or pelvic area
  • Use of tobacco products
  • An inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease
  • Poor nutritional habits, or a diet high in fatty foods and low in vegetables, fruits, and fiber
  • Inadequate amounts of exercise

If you carry any of the factors mentioned above, we recommend that you contact an Adult Gastroenterology Associates location near you to learn if you should have a colonoscopy exam.

Schedule a colonoscopy screening in Tulsa, OK

We recognize that a colonoscopy might sound unappealing; however, this quick, essential evaluation could likely save your life. Whether you’re 45 or around that age, we encourage you to contact Adult Gastroenterology Associates to schedule a colonoscopy consultation. At our premier gastroenterology centers in the Tulsa, OK area, we do our best to make these screenings as fast and comfortable as possible. Should you have questions about whether your colonoscopy is covered by your insurance plan, our caring team can help.

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