45 Is the New 50: Updates to Colonoscopy Guidelines


No matter if they've had a screening or not, many people are aware that 50 is the prime age for colonoscopy exams. Most doctors suggest that their patients undergo their first colonoscopy at age 50 and every ten years following that. Recent studies show, however, that you should arrange to have your first colonoscopy even before this time in life.

You might be asking, when should you start having colonoscopy screenings and why has the recommendation changed? Indianapolis Gastroenterology and Hepatology is here to answer all of your questions. Our board-certified gastroenterologists in Indianapolis, IN can provide detailed information on what to expect during a colonoscopy, when to undergo this exam, and more.

Why screen for colon cancer sooner?

For years, we’ve heard that 50 is the age we should begin having screenings for colon and rectal cancer. But new research studies indicate that perhaps we should begin these screenings even before then – upon turning 45. In fact, the USPSTF (United States Preventive Services Task Force) and the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) are recommending this. In addition, a number of insurance companies, including Medicare, have updated their policies to start providing coverage for colonoscopies at this age in life.

Much of what has initiated this change results from an increase in the number of colon cancer diagnoses in younger people. Between the years of 2008 and 2017, the death rate in people aged 55 and younger increased by 1%. Such an increase is a bit surprising given that the all-around colorectal cancer rates actually decreased during that same range of time.

In keeping with these recent revelations, our Indianapolis Gastroenterology and Hepatology colonoscopy doctors advise getting a colon cancer screening with our Indianapolis, IN gastroenterology team when you turn 45 years of age.

Why are colonoscopies important?

You have likely heard that undergoing colorectal cancer screenings is imperative as we become older. The reason for this is that colorectal cancer can be diagnosed in the early stage and is often avoided with regular exams. Whether a member of your family has been diagnosed with colorectal cancer, you have experienced this disease, or you've reached that “magic number,” colonoscopies are a vital aspect of maintaining your overall health.

These 15 to 30-minute screenings allow our physicians to gain a close-up, comprehensive view of your colon. In the course of this screening, we can assess for areas of concern and remove any colon polyps, which can then be sent to a laboratory for pathology testing. By extracting and testing colorectal polyps, our goal is to identify colorectal cancer while it's in an early stage and hopefully prevent it from advancing.

What are the risk factors for colorectal cancer?

You are aware of when you should begin having screenings for colon cancer, but what factors increase your chance of developing this disease? Some of the more common risk factors for colon and rectal cancer involve:

  • Family history of colon cancer
  • Lack of exercise
  • Tobacco use
  • Prior radiation treatments to the pelvic or abdominal area
  • An inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease
  • Poor diet, or a diet high in fatty foods and low in fruits, vegetables, and fiber

If you carry any of these risk factors, we encourage you to contact your nearest Indianapolis Gastroenterology and Hepatology location as early as possible to find out if you should schedule a colonoscopy exam.

Get a colonoscopy screening in Indianapolis, IN

We understand that the thought of a colonoscopy exam may seem embarrassing; however, this short, noninvasive, vital test could likely save your life. Whether you have turned 45 years old or are soon to be, we encourage you to get in touch with Indianapolis Gastroenterology and Hepatology to schedule a colonoscopy consultation. Our gastroenterology providers in the Indianapolis, IN area aim to make these screenings as quick and comfortable as possible. If you have questions about whether your colonoscopy is covered by insurance, please speak with a member of our team.

Find Your Nearest Location