I read somewhere that the American Cancer Society is now recommending colorectal cancer screening at age 45. When should I start getting screened? Should I get a Cologuard® (stool) test instead of a colonoscopy? | by Dr. Erika Lee

Posted on Thu, Oct 17, 2019

Colorectal cancer diagnoses in people under the age of 50 have been rising in recent years. In response to this, the American Cancer Society updated its screening guidelines to recommend that adults at average risk of colorectal cancer start regular screening at age 45. African-Americans, those with a family history of colorectal cancer and people who’ve already experienced colon polyps should talk with their doctor about being screened at an earlier age. 

Regular screening for colorectal cancer is critical. When detected and treated at an early stage, the five-year survival rate is more than 90%. 

Dr. Erika Lee, gastroenterology, South Denver Gastroenterology, Colonoscopy, Cologuard
Dr. Erika Lee
South Denver Gastroenterology

I tell my patients that it is much better to prevent cancer than to find cancer. Most colorectal cancers develop first as polyps, which are abnormal growths inside the colon or rectum that may later become cancerous if they are not removed. A colonoscopy is the only screening tool that can detect these polyps. 

The Cologuard® stool test is not an effective colorectal cancer prevention tool for everyone. It is ranked as a second-tier test by the U.S. Multi-Society Task Force on Colorectal Cancer. If you take a Cologuard® test and it comes back positive, you’ll need to have a colonoscopy which extends the screening process. 

Many people are turned off by colonoscopies because of different stories they may have heard about the procedure. “It’s painful” or “the prep is terrible.” The truth is, a colonoscopy is an outpatient procedure lasting less than an hour. You’ll experience little or no pain during it. 

The day before the colonoscopy, you’ll limit your diet to clear liquids and drink a small volume of a solution to clear out your colon. After the screening, you’ll head home and get on with your life! 

South Denver Gastroenterology, Colorado
Schedule an Appointment: 303.788.8888 | SouthDenverGI.com

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