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New Guidelines for First Colonoscopy


For years, Americans have been told they could generally wait until age 50 to have a colonoscopy.

That may be changing. Citing a rise in the number of young adults being diagnosed with colorectal cancer, the American Cancer Society (ACS) now recommends regular screenings starting at age 45.

Those at higher risk of colorectal cancer – due to family history of the disease and other factors – should see their physician to determine when a colonoscopy is needed.

Huntsville Hospital Digestive Disease Center gastroenterologist Rami Hawari, MD, said it used to be rare to see someone under age 50 with colorectal cancer. However, the incidence rate for Americans between 20 and 49 years old has been steadily climbing since about 1990.

“The data clearly supports starting colon cancer screenings at age 45,” said Dr. Hawari, who is also a member of the hospital’s Cancer Committee. “ACS should be applauded for being the first to recommend the change.”

The hospital supports initiatives to increase the colorectal cancer screening rate to 80 percent. Currently, only about 60 percent of eligible adults get screened. 

A routine colonoscopy can often detect colorectal cancer in the early stages when it is more treatable. “Early detection is key,” said Dr. Hawari

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