You're Not Getting Older; Colonoscopies are Getting Younger

When you own a car, you don’t wait for the check engine light to come on to take care of it; you take it in for routine oil changes, tire rotations, and other maintenance. Preventive health is similar; routinely visiting your doctor helps identify any potential problems in the future, and keeps you healthy now.

One major piece of preventive health is regular screenings. Recently, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) has recommended reducing the age for an initial colorectal cancer screening from age 50 to age 45, for both men and women. This recommendation includes two types of tests: colonoscopies, which involve physically inspecting the colon, and stool-based tests.

“Starting routine colon cancer screenings five years earlier could prevent more deaths from colorectal cancer, which is the third-leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States,” said Jonathan Godfrey, MD, gastroenterologist at Portneuf Gastroenterology.

The recent death of 43-year-old Black Panther star, Chadwick Boseman, was a shock to the world. It shed light on how dangerous colorectal cancer can be. According to the American Cancer Society, from 2012-2016, the diagnosis rate for colorectal cancer increased 2% every year for people who were younger than 50 years old.

“We’ve seen an increasing incidence of colorectal cancer in younger age groups. Thankfully, it is a highly preventable form of cancer through screening. Screening, with a colonoscopy, can prevent cancer through detection and removal of pre-cancerous growths known as polyps. It is highly recommended and strongly encouraged to get a colonoscopy,” said Jacob Wendling, DO, gastroenterologist at Portneuf Gastroenterology.

Risk Factors

A few lifestyle related risk factors that have been linked to colorectal cancer include:

  • Being overweight or obese
  • Not being physically active
  • Diets high in red meats and processed meats
  • Smoking
  • Alcohol use

There are also risk factors for colorectal cancer that you can’t change. These include age, family history, and ethnic background. Ultimately, colorectal cancer screenings are the most powerful tool for preventing colorectal cancer.

To schedule a colonoscopy, or to learn more about gastrointestinal services at Portneuf, visit portneufmedicalgroup.org/services/gastroenterology or call 208-232-6616.

To view a full list of preventive health screenings, visit portneuf.org/screenings.