Question: I know men should have a colonoscopy at age 50. (I had to drag my husband to his in chains!) Why isn’t it also important to women, not that I want to be a Me-Too person on this one? — Gwen, Lima
Thank you for that excellent question. Colon cancer screening should start at the age of 50 regardless of the gender.
Perhaps you’re not at the age yet for a colon screening.
The incidence of colon cancer is the same in men as it is in women. According to the most recent studies, women are more up to date with their health check-ups than men are. Men are less likely to follow through with their health exams, and that’s most likely why you would have to drag him in chains to go.
Colon cancer almost always starts with small growths called polyps. Finding these polyps and removing them before they become cancerous can prevent colon cancer.
A person who is low risk is a person who has no family history of colon cancer. Screenings of a person in this group will start at the age of 50 and then every 10 years if no polyps were found on screening colonoscopy.
A person who is high risk is a person who has family history of colon cancer and a woman with personal history of breast cancer. A high risk person should get screened every five years.
Of course, special circumstances exist. There are some syndromes like familial polyposis syndromes that can put a person more at risk. A person with a family member who had cancer starting at a young age can put a person more at risk. Any chronic problems with a person’s intestines, like ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease, can also be something to watch.
Anyone with any concerns should consult a gastroenterologist.
GI Physicians Inc., 512 N. Cable Road, Lima, OH 45805, 419-228-2600