Why 45 Is the New 50: Learn About Changes in Colonoscopy Guidelines


Regardless of whether you’ve undergone a colon cancer screening or not, many people know that 50 is the prime age for colonoscopies. The majority of doctors recommend that adults get their first colonoscopy exam when they reach age 50 and every decade following. Recent studies indicate, however, that you should arrange to undergo your initial colonoscopy screening even before this time in life.

You might be asking, when should you start scheduling colonoscopy procedures and why has this changed? Colorado Gastroenterology is here to help. Our gastroenterologists in Denver, CO can answer all of your questions about what to anticipate when having a colonoscopy, when you should have one, and more.

Start screening earlier?

In previous years, we’ve heard that age 50 is when we should begin screening exams for colon cancer. But new research studies indicate that perhaps we should begin these screenings even sooner – upon turning 45. In fact, the USPSTF (United States Preventive Services Task Force) and the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) are recommending this. A number of insurance companies, and even Medicare, have updated their policies to begin covering colonoscopy exams at age 45.

This update stems from an elevation in colon cancer diagnoses in younger people. Between 2008 and 2017, the mortality rate in patients 55 years old and younger rose by 1%. This rise is a bit surprising given that the overall colon and rectal cancer rates actually decreased within that same range of time.

In line with these recent discoveries, the colonoscopy doctors at Colorado Gastroenterology advise having a colon cancer screening with our Denver, CO team upon turning 45 years of age.

Why are colonoscopies essential for your health?

Most of us have likely heard that undergoing colon cancer screenings is vital in our older years. This is because colon cancer can be detected in the early stage and is commonly prevented with these simple screenings. Regardless of whether someone in your family has been diagnosed with colorectal cancer, you have been diagnosed with this disease, or you are over that “ideal age,” colonoscopies are a key part of protecting your health and wellness.

These 15 to 30-minute exams allow our providers to gain a clear, close-up view of your colon. Throughout this screening, our specialists can look for areas of concern and remove any growths (colorectal polyps), which can then be forwarded to a laboratory for pathology testing. By taking out colon polyps, our objective is to catch colon cancer while it's in an early stage and possibly prevent further development.

What are the risk factors for colorectal cancer?

So now you know when you should begin undergoing colon cancer screenings – but what factors increase your chance of developing this disease? Some common risk factors for colon cancer development involve:

  • Poor nutrition, or a diet high in fatty foods and low in fruits, fiber, and vegetables
  • Prior radiation treatments to the pelvic or abdominal area
  • Tobacco use
  • Family history of colorectal cancer
  • Lack of exercise
  • An inflammatory bowel disease such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease

Should you carry one or more of these risk factors, we urge you to contact a Colorado Gastroenterology location near you to determine if you are a candidate for a colonoscopy.

Get a colonoscopy screening in Denver, CO

We understand that the idea of a colonoscopy might make you squirm, but this quick, commonly performed, essential evaluation could possibly save your life. Whether you have turned 45 or are around that age, you should contact Colorado Gastroenterology to schedule a colonoscopy. At our premier gastroenterology centers in the Denver, CO area, we strive to make these screenings as efficient and comfortable as possible. Should you need help determining if your insurance covers colonoscopies, our team will be pleased to assist.

Find Your Nearest Location