There’s an important update available, and it’s not for your phone.

It used to be age 50, but now, anyone approaching their 45th birthday should talk to their primary care provider to schedule a possibly life-saving colonoscopy.

It can stop colorectal cancer. While the age changed, colon cancer has not. It remains one of the most deadly forms of cancer.

Why the Guidelines Changed

During the last 20 years, experts noticed trends, including an increase of more than 10% of colorectal cancers in people ages 20-50.

Lowering the recommended age to 45 makes sense in light of these numbers. The sooner the colon exam occurs, the more likely providers can either detect it, or better yet, stop colon cancer in its tracks.

The colonoscopy exists to detect cancer before symptoms arise. Early detection offers the best chance for an ideal outcome should you have cancer.

The reason the colonoscopy is best is easy: it can both find cancer and remove precancerous polyps from your body. Doctors use a camera to explore your colon, and if they find a polyp – they can remove it right then and there.

Signs of Colon Cancer

Talk to your doctor if you experience any of these:

  • Blood – Watch for blood in your stools.
  • Black – Sometimes blood will lead to stools that are tar-like and black in color.
  • Fatigue – Internal bleeding in the colon can prevent enough oxygen from circulating in the blood, causing you to feel tired. Your skin might appear pale, too.
  • Abdominal pain – Constant gas, cramps or bloating, along with discomfort or a change in bowel habits can all be signs of something going on down below.
  • Weight loss – Food becomes energy in a healthy digestive system. When cancer impacts the normal process, you could have unintentional weight loss.

How to Prevent Colon Cancer

Colon cancer can happen to healthy people who eat well and exercise daily. It can occur in people who have too much pizza and beer every day, too. Your genetic makeup is something you cannot change. But if you’re aware of it, you can lower your risk.

Talk to your parents and grandparents. Ask them if there’s a history of cancer in the family, because many people who have family history of colorectal cancer should begin colonoscopy earlier. Your doctor can help you figure this out.

You can lower your risk of colon cancer with these steps, too:

  • Exercise regularly
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Follow a diet low in fat and high in fiber
  • See your provider at least annually

Simply put: If you’re 45, or close to it, talk to your provider about colon cancer. It can literally save your life.

Call us at 712.722.1271 or learn more at siouxcenterhealth.org