According to the American Cancer Society, the incidence of colon and rectal cancer in people under 50 is rising steadily at the rate of 2% per year. In 2022 alone, the disease is expected to cause over 52,500 deaths. You can avoid becoming part of those statistics by undergoing regular colonoscopies.
If you live in Chicago, Illinois, there’s no better place to schedule your colon cancer screening than Metropolitan Gastroenterology Consultants. Dr. Darrien Gaston is a board-certified gastroenterologist with nearly three decades of experience diagnosing and treating gut issues, including colon cancer. If you’re wondering if and when you should come in for a colonoscopy, here’s an informative guide to help you understand your risks and determine a screening schedule.
Everything you need to know about a colonoscopy
A colonoscopy is a medical procedure that allows us to look inside your large intestine and check for abnormalities, such as polyps and signs of cancer. To ensure we get a clear view, you’ll consume a clear liquid diet the day before your colonoscopy and may need to take some bowel-emptying medication.
Some colonoscopies take place in a hospital setting, but with Dr. Gaston, there’s no need for that. Our state-of-the-art facilities are fully equipped for the procedure, so you can enjoy the comfort and privacy of an in-office procedure.
On the day of your colonoscopy, Dr. Gaston may give you some pain medication or a light sedative to relax you, but you’ll be awake during the 45-minute procedure. To perform the screening test, he inserts a long, slender tube fitted with a tiny camera at the tip into your anus. The camera helps guide the tube through your colon and large intestine and sends images to a nearby monitor, so Dr. Gaston can see the details and determine whether further tests are necessary.
When to get a colonoscopy
A colonoscopy is one of the best tools for detecting colorectal cancer early, and it’s responsible (at least partly) for a decline in cases in the over-55 crowd. But younger adults may benefit from a colonoscopy earlier than once believed. For years, 50 was considered the starting age to screen people with an average risk for colorectal cancer; now, we recommend starting at age 45.
More than your age, your risk factors for colorectal cancers determine the best time to get a colonoscopy.
Average risk colonoscopy schedule
If you don’t have a high risk for colorectal cancer, we recommend:
- Get your first colonoscopy at age 45
- Get regular screenings until you’re 75
- After 75, screening needs depend on your health and life expectancy
- Stop getting colonoscopies at age 85
Dr. Gaston can help you determine your risk factors and how often to get a colonoscopy.
High-risk colonoscopy schedule
You’re at high risk for colon cancer if:
- Colorectal cancer runs in your family
- You’ve had other types of cancer
- You have Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis
- Familial adenomatous polyposis runs in your family
There’s no standard colonoscopy schedule for high-risk people. It’s best to consult with Dr. Gaston, so he can perform a comprehensive exam and design a personalized colonoscopy schedule that meets your unique needs.
If you’re 45 or older, call us today or book an appointment online to find out the right colonoscopy schedule for you.