For a long time a screening colonoscopy at the age of 50 has been standard practice. This is because you are at an increased risk of developing colon cancer as well as other intestinal conditions after the age of 50. By undergoing a screening colonoscopy before you encounter any symptoms that are inhibiting your digestive health, your colon surgeon can evaluate the health of your large intestine, detect abnormalities early on and even remove pre-cancerous growths or polyps before they have the chance to develop into colon cancer.
This practice of a preventative screening at the age of 50 has led many people to push the prospect of colon cancer far out of their head until they reach that age. Unfortunately, this has even led many people to ignore or rationalize symptoms that would otherwise be red flags to see your doctor.
This is why of those who develop colon cancer earlier in life, the condition is usually advanced before the patient presents him or herself for treatment. Undergoing a screening colonoscopy at the onset of symptoms can prevent a great deal of pain and heartache, making treatment much easier and preventing the risk of recurrence of colon cancer later on.
Colon cancer is one of the leading causes of cancer related deaths, and should be considered an incredibly serious disease. However, rates of colon cancer have been gradually dropping within populations over the age of 50. Credit for this is given to the use of preventative colonoscopies. However, this rate of gradual decline is not relevant for those under the age of 50. To the contrary, colon cancer rates have actually been on the rise within populations between 20 and 50, leaving many healthcare professionals to advocate for colonoscopy screenings much earlier in life.
Whatever your age, it is important that you take the signs of colon cancer seriously and contact your colorectal specialist if you are experiencing the following symptoms:
- Severe abdominal bloating
- Rectal bleeding
- Changes in bowel habits
- Extreme weight loss
- Chronic diarrhea or constipation
Colon cancer rates among those under the age of 50 still remain small—affecting approximately 1.5 percent of men in the United States and about 1.6 percent of women. However, this is a much higher number than it was years ago. Reasons for the increase in colon cancer diagnosis are attributed to all sorts of factors, including everything from family history of the disease to environmental factors like diet and obesity. Researchers claim that a diet high in fat and carbohydrates could be to blame for the increase in colon cancer rates, as this is the type of food found at fast food restaurants that have become such a staple of the American diet.