LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - Recently, the American Cancer Society changed its guidelines for Colorectal screening, moving that first check from age 50 to age 45 in people of 'average risk'. So, what is 'average risk?'
Dr. Sameer Islam, a gastroenterologist at University Medical Center, says that means you have no family history of colon cancer or colon polyps and no bleeding or diarrheal problems.
It's the high risk category that might surprise you because more and more often, age is not a factor.
He explains, "From 1994 until now, there's been a 50 percent increase in the rate of colon cancer in those patients less than 50 years old. Last week, a patient had colonoscopy at the age of 20 because she had a father who was diagnosed with colon cancer at the age of 30 years old. If there is a family history of colon cancer or colon polyps, you may need to get your colonoscopy done sooner than the age of 45, depending on when that family member was diagnosed with colon cancer."
The ACS also says there are some good testing options that are available now as well. But Dr. Islam says be careful about buying a stool test online that you can take at home.
He says it may be reliable, but your insurance may not cover your colonoscopy if that early diagnosis was made at home, instead of through a medical doctor. Apparently, the at-home tests tend to have a high rate of false positives, which may be why insurance carriers may prefer that your diagnosis comes from your doctor.