In both men and women, colorectal cancer is one of the most commonly diagnosed types of cancer and the second leading cause of cancer death. Yet, it is a form of cancer that is largely preventable and easily detected early through the use of colonoscopy. Colonoscopies are the gold standard of screening methods for colorectal cancer.
Colorectal cancer occurs in men and women equally, therefore it is recommended for everyone to begin getting colonoscopies at the age of 50 unless there is a family history of the disease. For individuals with a family history of colon cancer, especially a parent or a sibling, have a discussion with your physician about early screenings and when you should start getting screened. Through the use of colonoscopy, gastroenterologists can not only detect and diagnose malignancies in the colon, but they can also detect and remove possibly pre-cancerous polyps lining the colon—significantly decreasing the risk of developing colorectal cancer.
It is normally recommended to get colonoscopies every 10 years after the age of 50 unless polyps are found— in which case, you are then recommended to get a colonoscopy every 3-5 years.
Despite a colonoscopy being the best way to screen for colorectal cancer, there are still many people who don’t have one done. There are a variety of reasons why individuals skip it, but it’s important to understand that colonoscopies are the number one way to detect and prevent colon cancer. Getting the initial screening around the age of 50 is the first step in prevention and will create a baseline of your health for the future. Colonoscopies are procedures in which the patient is comfortably sedated and gastroenterologists are actually able to remove any polyps that may be discovered during the colonoscopy procedure as well.
Cone Health has an exceptional network of gastroenterologists and primary care providers who are dedicated to educating the community about the importance of colorectal cancer screening and making sure they get colonoscopies within the recommended time frame.
Dr. Henry Danis is a gastroenterologist at LeBauer Gastroenterology and a member of Cone Health Medical Group. Dr. Danis attended medical school at the University of Massachusetts. He completed his residency in internal medicine and a fellowship in gastroenterology at Brown University.