When Should You Start Screening for Colon Cancer?
We’ve all heard about the alarming rates of colon cancer and its terrible outcomes. Given its increasing prevalence, we all now know that the question is less of a “whether” and more of a “when” to start getting screened for this terrible disease.
So when exactly do you need to begin getting screened for colon cancer? Read on to learn more about colon cancer, who should be screened, when, and what kind of testing you should expect.
With this knowledge, you can start protecting yourself and your loved ones from colon cancer!
Quick Recap of Key Points
Generally, individuals aged 45 and over should begin regular screenings for colorectal cancer. However, depending on your personal risk factors, your doctor may advise you to start earlier or more frequently. BeScreened has a colon cancer screening kit that can be taken annually for preventative screening of colon cancer if you are at risk.
When to Start Screening for Colon Cancer?
When to start screening for colon cancer is a disputed issue, with a range of opinions ranging from recommendations for all adults to get tested, regardless of their age, to those only in high-risk groups.
For many years, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommended that all adults between 50 and 75 should receive screening for colon cancer at least every ten years through either flexible sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopies.
However, in 2016, the USPSTF increased its recommendation to include younger adults if they were at an increased risk of developing colorectal cancer due to factors such as family history or prior diagnosis of benign Polyps.
The American Cancer Society (ACS) believes that anyone over 45 should begin routine screenings.
The ACS also suggests that people at higher risk should begin screening sooner; this could include African Americans, patients with a family history of colorectal cancer, or those diagnosed with inflammatory bowel disease.
Though both organizations suggest different starting points for screening, it is undeniable that early detection of colon cancer is critical to improving outcomes.
Patients should discuss the risks and benefits associated with screening for colorectal cancer with their healthcare provider to determine when they should begin routine testing.
In the next section, understanding who is at risk for developing colorectal cancer is essential in determining when individuals should start screenings.
Who Is at Risk for Colon Cancer?
When it comes to who is at risk of developing colon cancer, there are various factors to consider. Generally, the consensus from doctors is that starting at around age 50 is an ideal time for people without an increased risk to begin regular screenings.
However, specific individuals may need to start sooner. Studies suggest a lifetime risk of colon cancer is about five percent.
Still, the American Cancer Society (ACS) states that individuals with specific risk factors, including a family history of colorectal cancer or previous colorectal adenomas, should begin screening at age 45 or earlier and possibly more often than once every ten years. Additional risk factors include inflammatory bowel diseases such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. The ACS estimates that people with these conditions have twice the average risk of developing colorectal cancer compared to the general population.
People facing any of these higher risks should speak to their doctor immediately so they can determine when they should begin screening tests and how often they should be repeated.
However, it is important to note that starting screening earlier does not guarantee that someone will avoid developing colon cancer. Many healthy individuals who start screening in their early 40s may never experience any symptoms from the disease, even though it was present in their bodies all along.
For this reason, there may be some debate about whether it is necessary for people without any additional risk factors to start early with screening tests; this should be discussed between the individual and their primary care physician.
Now that we have discussed who may be at an increased risk for developing colon cancer and the appropriate times for them to start screening tests, let us move on to discussing what types of tests are available.
What Colon Cancer Screening Tests Are Available?
Screening for colorectal cancer involves several tests, depending on an individual’s risk factors and preferences. The most common tests are blood tests and fecal occult blood tests (FOBT).
Blood tests detect markers in the blood that can indicate colon cancer, while fecal occult blood tests detect hidden blood in the stool, indicating a polyp or cancerous tumor in the colon or rectum. Other tests include flexible sigmoidoscopy, double-contrast barium enema X-ray, and colonoscopy.
The debate around these tests lies primarily in their efficacy. Every screening method has advantages and disadvantages––colonoscopy may offer more accurate results but not necessarily be covered under insurance plans; blood tests are accurate, but some may be opposed to giving blood finally, FOBT may prove more accessible but with less accuracy than other methods.
Ultimately, it depends on each person’s health goals, risk factors, and resources.
Individuals need to discuss the best courses of action with their doctor or healthcare provider to decide which test is most suitable for them. From there, understanding what the results mean becomes the next step toward controlling health and preventing colorectal cancer.
Now that we’ve discussed available screening tests let’s move on to understanding what the results mean in our next section.
What Do the Results Mean?
Colon cancer screening results can be categorized into abnormal, normal, and inconclusive.
An abnormal result means the physician has identified something suspicious during the procedure, such as polyps or other pre-cancerous conditions.
A normal result indicates that no significant issues were found.
An inconclusive result means that, while no definitive answer could be reached, there may still be something worth looking into with further investigation.
When receiving any of these results, discussing what they mean with your doctor is important. If your results are abnormal, further testing may be recommended to determine whether or not the finding indicates a more severe problem.
If your results are normal and you have no colon cancer symptoms, you likely have nothing to worry about at this time. However, it’s important to note that even if a single test returns normal, it does not guarantee that you will never experience any problems.
Follow-up blood tests from BeScreend may be recommended at regular intervals to ensure any changes can be detected early on and addressed quickly.
Inconclusive results may require additional testing to reach a conclusion. Depending on the type of screening done (such as blood work or imaging), follow-up procedures may include an endoscopy or a repeat screening test after some time has elapsed.
No matter the outcome of a colon cancer screening, it is crucial for patients to discuss all possible implications with their healthcare provider and develop an appropriate plan of action based on medical expertise and personal preference.
Moving forward, expert guidelines need to be considered when discussing when individuals should start screening for colon cancer.
Colon cancer screening is recommended to start at age 45 for those without a higher risk of developing the disease due to family or personal medical history. Those at higher risk may need to begin screening earlier, usually between the ages of 35 and 40. In general, it is advised that everyone should be screened for colon cancer by age 50.
The American Cancer Society (ACS) recommends that “people with an average risk of colorectal cancer should have periodic screenings beginning at age 45.”
However, there is some debate as to whether this recommendation should be followed strictly or if certain exceptions can be made when assessing individual risk factors. Some experts suggest that, even for people with an average risk, colon cancer screening should begin at age 40.
On the other hand, some argue that it is not necessary to start screening individuals at an earlier age unless they have an increased risk of developing colon cancer.
Because colon cancer is most common in individuals ages 50 and older and the risks associated with screening routinely before this age outweigh the benefits, they recommend screening start at age 45.
Others contend that it is difficult to generalize when to start screening since individual circumstances vary so much.
Overall, opinions on when to initiate colon cancer screening are divided. Still, ultimately, it is up to the discretion of each individual’s healthcare provider to decide the best time based on personal risk factors and lifestyle choices.
Individuals need to consult their doctor about when they should begin colorectal cancer screenings to ensure that they receive appropriate advice tailored to their particular situation. As such, individuals need to be informed to discuss when screening might be necessary with their doctor.
With this knowledge in hand, it will be easier for them to know when it is time to consult a doctor about their specific needs for colorectal cancer screening.
When Is It Time to Consult a Doctor?
The most important answer to when it is time to start colon cancer screening is if your doctor recommends it. While there are guidelines for the general public and your personal risk factors will play a role in making an individualized assessment, only your doctor can check for any conditions or other factors which may require you to start screening earlier than the recommended age.
For example, if you have a family history of colon cancer or have been diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, Inflammatory Bowel Syndrome (IBS), ulcerative colitis, ovarian or breast cancer, or any other medical condition that increases your risk of developing colorectal cancer, it is necessary to talk to your doctor about when it would be appropriate to start screening.
At this point, it is also important to consider scheduling an appointment with your doctor if you have been experiencing any symptoms that could be linked to colorectal cancer.
Common warning signs include rectal bleeding, stomach pain, unexplained weight loss, and changes in bowel habits. Colorectal cancer can be fatal if left untreated, so consulting a doctor if any such symptoms arise is essential.
Discussing an appropriate time to initiate screenings with your healthcare provider is crucial in identifying and treating colon cancer before it progresses into something more severe. The next section looks at changes in lifestyle to prevent colon cancer.
Changes in Lifestyle
Modifications to lifestyle can become integral components of managing the risk of developing colon cancer. Colon and other gastrointestinal cancers have been linked to a lack of physical activity, sedentary lifestyles, and smoking habits.
People who are inactive for extended periods can suffer from metabolic and hormonal conditions, which lead to a more significant development of chronic illnesses, including cancer.
Adopting an active lifestyle with regular exercise can reduce the risk of colon cancer. For example, getting at least thirty minutes of exercise most days is recommended to reduce risks.
Regular exercise has been seen to have profound physiological effects on the body. It can play an essential role in controlling total body fat, which is sometimes linked with colon cancer.
Though abstaining from smoking may not directly lessen the chances of developing colon cancer, cutting back or quitting entirely can reduce many other risk factors associated with this disease, such as cardiovascular diseases, stroke, diabetes, and more.
Lack of smoking, in combination with proper nutrition and physical activity, can slow down the build-up of inflammatory cells or free radicals that could disrupt cellular functions within the body.
In addition to these precautions against developing colon cancer, maintaining weight within healthy limits is also encouraged. Being overweight or obese increases the risk of colon cancer if left uncontrolled.
The effectiveness of these methods varies with each individual, but following preventive lifestyle measures allows one to keep their body healthy and free from diseases like colon cancer.
Working towards a healthier lifestyle requires effort, but the potential benefits are far-reaching since it can help individuals combat numerous chronic diseases, including colon cancer.
Given that physical activity, adequate nutrition, and a non-smoking lifestyle could all affect the delayed onset or progression of colon cancers, making lifestyle changes to maximize one’s potential for health must be critically considered when deciding when to start screening for this condition.
In conclusion, changes in lifestyle by incorporating regular physical activity, proper nutrition, and avoiding smoking habits can aid in reducing the risk of colon cancer and its progression over time.
Screening for colon cancer is vital for identifying and treating the disease in its early stages. Medical professionals recommend beginning colorectal screenings at age 45 when the risk of developing colon cancer rises significantly. Those with a family history of the disease or other predisposing factors should have screening done earlier than age 45.
BeScreened offers a blood-based colon cancer test that can identify colon cancer with 94% accuracy and be taken annually to make sure you are getting the preventive screening that you need. Order online today and get scheduled to get screened for colon cancer at all Any Lab Test Now locations.
Order BeScreened’s CRC Testing Kit Now
Frequently Ask Questions
Where to Get Tested For Colon Cancer?
Getting tested for colon cancer is made easy with BeScreened’s blood-based screening kits. These tests identify markers in the blood that can indicate if colon cancer is present. This blood test can be ordered online or taken at an annual doctor’s visit.
Getting screened for colon cancer has never been easier!
What are the possible risks associated with delaying colon cancer screening?
Regardless of age or risk level, delaying colon cancer screening increases the risks associated with this deadly disease. A delay may result in cancer not being detected in its early stages when it is more treatable and curable. Other possible risks include the spread of cancer to different organs in the body, requiring more aggressive treatment; a longer recovery time; and, in some cases, a reduced chance of survival. In addition, delayed detection may lead to more expensive therapies due to the advanced cancer stage at diagnosis.
Furthermore, individuals who delay tests increase their risk of developing uncomfortable symptoms such as unexplained weight loss, recurrent abdominal pain and fatigue, iron deficiency anemia, and rectal bleeding. Recognizing these signs can prevent more significant damage and increase the odds of successful treatment outcomes.
Not screening for colon cancer increases health risks for everyone, regardless of age or risk level. The best way to reduce your chances of getting it is to get screened regularly and practice healthy lifestyle habits including exercising, eating right, and avoiding tobacco products. Early detection can be life-saving, so begin a regular screening program as soon as possible.
What is the screening process for colon cancer?
The screening process for colon cancer involves testing fecal samples or performing a colonoscopy. Fecal occult blood tests (FOBT) look for hidden or “occult” blood in the stool, while fecal immunochemical tests (FIT) look specifically for human hemoglobin. In a colonoscopy, an endoscope is inserted into the rectum, and sedation is used to allow the doctor to view any abnormalities that may be present. Depending on the circumstances, doctors may also recommend an MRI, CT, or virtual colonoscopy.
Screening can help detect pre-cancerous polyps, so their removal can prevent cancer from developing. Also, by catching cancer early in its course, treatment is more likely to be successful. Screening begins at 50 and should continue every ten years if no abnormalities are detected. People with risk factors, such as a family history of colon cancer, may need to begin screening earlier. You must speak with your doctor about which type of screening test is best for you.
What precautionary measures should I take to prevent colon cancer?
Preventive measures to reduce the risk of colon cancer include:
1. Getting regular screenings: Although the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends that people at average risk start regular colon cancer screenings at age 50, individuals should speak with their healthcare provider about when they should begin screening, as family history and other factors can suggest the need for earlier testing.
2. Making changes to your diet and lifestyle: Eating a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, avoiding processed meats, limiting alcohol intake, maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly, and not smoking or using tobacco products are all measures that can reduce risk of colon cancer.
3. Taking aspirin: Regular use of aspirin has been linked to a lower risk of colon cancer in specific populations. However, the risks associated with taking aspirin must be carefully weighed against the benefits, so speak to your doctor before beginning an aspirin regimen.
When is the recommended age to start screening for colon cancer?
The recommended age for screening for colon cancer is 45 years old, but some experts suggest it may be even earlier. In general, individuals should begin screening at age 45 or 10 years before the earliest diagnosis of colorectal cancer in their family, whichever comes first. Risk factors such as a personal or family history of colorectal cancer and specific genetic syndromes may lead to earlier or more frequent screening.
If you’re between ages 45 and 75 and have an average risk of colorectal cancer, you should be tested regularly with either:
• BeScreened’s Blood test every yeara;
• A colonoscopy every ten years;
• A fecal immunochemical test (FIT) every year
• A fecal occult blood test (FOBT) every year;
• A flexible sigmoidoscopy every five years in combination with FIT every three years.
The most effective way to screen for colon cancer is a colonoscopy, which allows doctors to look inside the large intestine. People with a personal or family history of colorectal cancer may need to start screening earlier. Talk to your doctor about the best screening and any other risk factors that may increase your risk of developing colorectal cancer.
Other Questions To Ask
Questions to consider when deciding when to start screening for colon cancer include:
– What is my family’s medical history? Knowing if anyone in your family has had colon cancer can help determine your risk and inform screening decisions.
– Have I noticed any changes in my bowel habits or other symptoms that could be related to colorectal cancer, such as fatigue, weight loss, or pain? If so, it may warrant earlier initiation of screening.
– Are there any lifestyle factors that increase my risk of colorectal cancer, like smoking or alcohol consumption? Your doctor can help you assess the impact of these behaviors on your colorectal cancer risk.
– Do I have a higher risk due to chronic medical conditions or health issues? Additional conditions such as diabetes, Crohn’s disease, diverticulitis, and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) can affect your screening timeline.
– Am I more likely to benefit from an earlier start based on age and gender? Screening should begin earlier for people at higher risk because of their sex or age.
Talking with a healthcare professional about personal medical history and lifestyle factors is critical to determine the best time to start screening for colon cancer.