45 is the new 50 when it comes to colon cancer

If there’s one medical procedure that’s universally dreaded, and put off for as long as possible, it would have to be the routine colonoscopy for colon cancer screening.

After all, who wants to drink a gallon of that awful tasting prep liquid to sit on the toilet for hours while your backend works like a faucet, and then go in for an invasive and dignity-destroying test.

Yet, considering the statistics on colon cancer, it’s also the doctor’s appointment we should all be clamoring to get.

And now that appointment just got moved up…

Younger than ever

That’s because more and more patients are suffering from colon cancer at a younger age than ever before. In fact, doctors are warning that today, you have the same cancer risk at 45 that you used to have at 50!

And the U.S. task force that determines the timing of cancer screenings has taken note.

They are now recommending that adults start routine screening for colorectal cancer at the age of 45 instead of waiting until 50, to take steps to catch cancer at its earliest stages when it’s most treatable.

Related: 5 ways to screen for colon cancer

This is of the highest level of importance because, according to Dr. Scott Kopetz, a gastrointestinal medical oncologist at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston who was asked about colorectal cancer rates by age, “One in three of our patients now that we’re seeing are under 50.”

And if you’re not screened and therefore not treated if you have cancer, the disease can progress rapidly, diminishing your chances of survival.

In fact, the five-year survival rate breakdown of colon cancer isn’t favorable when not caught early:

  • Stage 1: 90 percent
  • Stage 2: 55 to 80 percent
  • Stage 3: 40 percent

Clearly, it’s much better to catch cancer at the beginning stage.

Easier but more frequent

And that’s exactly the reason for the task force’s updated recommendations.

Now, before you start worrying about the less fun aspects of the colonoscopy you need to schedule, there is some good news.

In addition to the gold standard for colon cancer screening, the panel also recommended testing based on stool samples to identify signs of cancer.

Related: The vitamin proven to boost the odds against colon cancer

These stool-based tests, unlike traditional colonoscopies, are completely non-invasive and can be done in the comfort of your own home. The only catch is you have to do them more often.

Colonoscopies on the other hand, only have to be done every 10 years, but as we all know are totally invasive and do carry some risks, such as adverse reactions to the sedative used during the procedure, bleeding or a tear in the colon wall.

Early warning signs

In addition to regular screening, it’s also important to be aware of the early warning signs of colon cancer so that you can talk to your doctor.

These include:

  • Abdominal pain, cramps or gas
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Blood in your stool
  • Fatigue or weakness
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Feeling like your bowel never completely empties

It’s also important to remember though that younger patient, especially women, are more likely to be dismissed or misdiagnosed when it comes to colon cancer than their older counterparts.

And many patients report that they have to see multiple doctors and go through multiple appointments before being correctly diagnosed.

So be sure to advocate for your health to get the testing and care you need that could save your life.

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Sources:

What Is the Survival Rate for Colon Cancer? — MedicineNet

Colon Cancer Screening Should Start Earlier, at Age 45, U.S. Panel Says — The New York Times

Colonoscopy — Mayo Clinic

Colon Cancer — Mayo Clinic

Never Too Young Survey Report — Colorectal Cancer Alliance

Dr. Adria Schmedthorst

By Dr. Adria Schmedthorst

Dr. Adria Schmedthorst is a board-certified Doctor of Chiropractic, with more than 20 years of experience. She has dedicated herself to helping others enjoy life at every age through the use of alternative medicine and natural wellness options. Dr. Schmedthorst enjoys sharing her knowledge with the alternative healthcare community, providing solutions for men and women who are ready to take control of their health the natural way.