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When to Schedule Your Next (or First) Colonoscopy

When to Schedule Your Next (or First) Colonoscopy

It may surprise you to learn that colorectal cancer ranks as the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths among American men and women combined. The good news is that it’s relatively easy to treat when we catch it early through regular screenings — including a colonoscopy — before it spreads. Plus, some screening methods can even detect and remove growths in your colon called polyps before they have a chance to turn cancerous.

At Metropolitan Gastroenterology Consultants in Chicago, Illinois, Dr. Darrien Gaston and our team recommend regular screenings in compliance with the American Cancer Society’s (ACS) guidelines. The frequency differs depending on your age and risk level. Dr. Gaston explains the optimal test schedules, but your circumstances may warrant a different routine. 

What puts you at high risk for colorectal cancer?

Simply aging increases your risk for all kinds of diseases, including colorectal cancer. But other factors influence your vulnerability to the condition, too, such as:

The more high-risk factors that apply to you, the more closely you need to keep your eye on your colon.

Colonoscopy schedule for average-risk people

The general colonoscopy guidelines for folks with no risk factors are as follows:

*Important note: The ACS revised its screening guidelines to lower the starting age because of a rise in colorectal cancer rates among people under 50. According to ACS experts, earlier screening starting at age 45 has the potential to save even more lives.

Colonoscopy schedule for high-risk people

Having one or more of the risk factors for colorectal cancer may mean you need to start getting colonoscopies before you turn 45 and more frequently than the 10-year spread recommended for those with an average risk. Dr. Gaston can let you know if you fall into this category. 

Colonoscopy: Not the only screen in town

If you have an average risk for colorectal cancer, Dr. Gaston may recommend one of two screening options. The first type of test can detect adenomatous polyps and cancer, while the second type primarily detects cancer; we can use either for screening purposes.

We recommend undergoing tests that can detect adenomatous polyps and cancer within specific intervals. For example:

On the other hand, we recommend you undergo tests that primarily detect cancer annually. 

The ACS and other respected organizations, such as the American College of Gastroenterology, the American College of Physicians, and the US Preventive Services Task Force, all contribute to the prevailing recommendations. Although the guidelines typically align, they sometimes follow slightly different approaches, so it’s best to consult with Dr. Gaston, whose experience and skill, coupled with his in-depth knowledge of your unique health status, put him in the best position to monitor your colon and keep you safe and healthy. 

Don’t let fear of the unknown keep you from preventing a potentially deadly case of colorectal cancer. Get on the books by calling our friendly staff at 773-245-0347.

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