As we get older, we undergo a number of regular health screenings and tests to make sure our bodies are in good and working order. These include mammograms to detect breast abnormalities, as well as annual skin checks to look for strange moles or discoloration. Screenings for colon cancer are also critical, and now, there are new recommendations in place for when you should start getting them.
Colon cancer affects roughly one in 25 American women, and it’s the third-highest cause of cancer-related death. Up until recently, guidelines used to dictate that people between the ages of 50 and 75 should get a basic colorectal screening once per year or so, depending on individual risk factors like genetics. But there are different types of tests available, some that you may only do every five or 10 years, such as a colonoscopy.
Now, however, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, which looks at solutions for preventing different health conditions and diseases, says that they’re recommending lowering the age to begin colon cancer screenings to 45 instead of 50. The encouraged change came shortly after an article was published in Journal of the American Medical Association in April showing that colon cancer was projected to become the leading cause of cancer-related deaths for younger people between the ages of 20 and 49 by 2030. A follow-up comparative study found that the age of 45 was the optimal time to begin screenings since there can still be a lot of early colon cancer detection around then.
If you’re worried about your colon health, however, the best path you can take right now is to talk to your doctor about your concerns and your options. Your healthcare provider is there to help you figure out what’s best for you and your individual situation!