The American Cancer Society lists colon cancer as one of the most commonly diagnosed cancers in men and women. This is a scary statistic, but it’s also one with a silver lining, as colon cancer is very treatable when diagnosed in its early stages. Because a cancer screening can serve as both a diagnostic and preventative procedure, scheduling regular colorectal cancer screenings not only ensures that colorectal cancers are caught early, but also prevents you from ever developing the disease, as surgeons can detect and remove polyps that may lead to cancer. If you’ve been putting off scheduling your colonoscopy, or if you’re concerned you may be at a higher risk of developing colon cancer, schedule an appointment with our board-certified GI team.
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Risk Factors for Colon Cancer
While it’s true that anyone can develop colon cancer, some people are at a higher risk of getting the disease. Being aware of risk factors like age, genetics and lifestyle can help you make decisions about when to schedule a colonoscopy.
While people can develop colon cancer at any age, men and women above the age of 50 are at a greater risk of getting the disease. To protect yourself from colon cancer, our colorectal surgeons recommend that you undergo your first colonoscopy at age 50 and follow-up screenings every 10 years. Individual risk factors can also have an effect on when you should have a colonoscopy. If you have questions about your personal risk, don’t hesitate to contact our GI team.
People with a family history of colon cancer have a higher risk of developing the disease themselves. According to the National Cancer Institute, those whose immediate family members—parents, siblings or children—were diagnosed with colon cancer have twice the risk of developing colorectal cancer. If someone in your family was diagnosed with colon cancer, or had colorectal polyps, you should begin undergoing colonoscopies at age 45 to protect yourself. Certain genetic conditions such as FAP can also affect your risk level, so you should be sure to contact an experienced GI specialist with all your questions.
Lifestyle can play a role in whether or not you develop colon cancer. Both overconsumption of alcohol and use of tobacco products have been linked to colorectal cancers, and people who drink excessively or smoke should start undergoing colonoscopies at an earlier age. If you’re concerned that your family history or lifestyle may be putting you at an elevated risk for developing colon cancer, don’t hesitate to speak to one of the board-certified specialists at La Peer Health Systems.
Who Needs a Colonoscopy FAQ
I have inflammatory bowel disease. Do I need a colonoscopy?
Inflammatory Bowel Disease and other conditions can hurt your chances of preventing colon cancer. If you suffer from IBD or another chronic condition, you should speak to your doctor about scheduling a colonoscopy.
What GI symptoms might mean I need a colonoscopy?
Knowing the symptoms of colon cancer can help protect you by ensuring that any abnormalities are detected early. If you’ve been experiencing any of the following symptoms, don’t hesitate to schedule a colonoscopy: abdominal pain, changes in bowel movements, blood in the stool, unexplained weight loss.
Are certain ethnic groups at a greater risk of developing colon cancer?
Among ethnic groups, African Americans tend to have a higher risk of developing colon cancer. Jews of Eastern European descent also have an elevated risk of getting the disease. If you’re a member of one of these groups, consider scheduling a colonoscopy at our Beverly Hills location.
I’m overweight. Do I need a colonoscopy?
People who are overweight have a higher risk of being diagnosed with—and dying from—colon cancer, so undergoing regular colonoscopies is crucial.
How often do I need a colonoscopy?
Can undergoing a colonoscopy really protect me from colon cancer?
Yes! Colonoscopy is both a diagnostic and preventative procedure, in that it allows surgeons to remove pre-cancerous polyps that are known to lead to colon cancer. If you would like to schedule a colonoscopy, or if you’re concerned about your colorectal health, don’t hesitate to contact the GI team at La Peer Health Systems by calling (888) 837-0459.
Next, learn more information about what will happen before your colonoscopy procedure.