Many women think colon cancer is a men’s health issue and don’t see the need for colon screening procedures like colonoscopies.
The truth is colon cancer doesn’t play favorites and can occur in both women and men. According to the CDC, colon cancer is the third leading cause of cancer among women behind breast and lung cancer.
Colonoscopies for Women over the Age of 50
If you are a woman age 50 or older, take the time to schedule a colonoscopy. This life-saving test can detect benign polyps that may be removed during the procedure – before they have a chance to turn into cancer.
A colonoscopy is one of several screening tests available. Whether or not you need regular screenings will depend on your personal history and risk factors.
Those with only average risk for colorectal cancer (over 50, no known family history or medical conditions, i.e. an inflammatory bowel syndrome like Crohn’s disease), you should schedule a colonoscopy every 10 years.
The screening recommendations change when you or someone in your family has had polyps or colorectal cancer before or you have Lynch syndrome (hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer) or familial adenomatous polyposis. In these situations, you should go in for screening before age 50, and more often than once a decade.
The American Cancer Society also says people are at higher risk who have previously received radiation in their abdomen or pelvis to treat a cancer.
Depending on which guidelines you follow, you may go in for routine screenings until you are 76. Screenings are available for individuals between the ages of 76 and 85 (the maximum recommended age for screenings). This option depends on an individual’s personal risk factors and health history.
Benefits of early detection
Although many people are reluctant to schedule colorectal cancer screening tests, detecting the risk of cancer early is the best case scenario.
Most precancerous polyps are a specific type called adenomatous polyps, and the medical community believes that they take ten years to develop into cancer. Removing them before they have a chance to develop is optimal, but polyps are also most treatable when found early.
Why a colonoscopy?
If a colonoscopy is one of several screening options, you may be wondering whether it matters which type you get.
Simply put, colonoscopy finds the most polyps and cancers compared to the other options. Additionally, doctors can remove or biopsy them during the procedure.
Should you choose a different screening tool, such as a stool-based or visual (structural) exam, you will need a colonoscopy if they yield any abnormal results. If that’s a concern for you, depending on your circumstances and health insurance coverage, you may want to skip these options and simply get a colonoscopy.
Here’s an informative video with some more information:
Don’t wait for symptoms to show up
The fact is, colon cancer doesn’t usually have symptoms in the early stages. That means your best bet for early detection and treatment is following the screening guidelines.
However, if you are seeing any unusual symptoms, make an appointment with your physician.
Common colorectal cancer symptoms
- Bloody stool or rectal bleeding
- An ongoing change in bowel habits (diarrhea, constipation, change in stool consistency)
- Abdominal pain or cramping
- Gas or persistent abdominal discomfort
- You feel like your bowels aren’t voiding completely
- Weakness, fatigue, or unexplained weight loss
Don’t wait. Talk to your doctor or contact Colon & Rectal Specialists for an appointment. Give yourself peace of mind so you can make the most out of your senior years, enjoying friends, family, and the things you love to do.
Have Questions About Maintaining a Healthy Colon?
According to Harvard Medical School’s Harvard Women’s Health Watch, the risk of colon cancer gets higher with age. In fact, they cite a figure that over 90% of cases are in people over the age of 50.
Around 140,000 Americans were diagnosed with colon cancer in 2018, with nearly 50,000 deaths as a result. Harvard Women’s Health Watch says that experts believe that 60% of those deaths might have been preventable, had the individuals received adequate screening.
It’s normal to have questions about colonoscopy screenings, colon cancer risks, and other colon health-related topics. Don’t let those questions and concerns prevent you from scheduling an appointment. CRS specialists are prepared to answer and address them, because they are dedicated to getting you the health care you deserve so that you can live a long, full life.
CRS offers Kinder Colonoscopy, a suite of colonoscopy prep and recovery aids developed with your comfort in mind. Benefits of scheduling your colonoscopy with CRS include:
- Faster appointments–often within a week
- Opportunity to talk to your doctor beforehand, rather than meeting them the day of your procedure
- Potentially less fasting time pre-colonoscopy
- Fast-acting sedation to reduce post-procedure grogginess or feeling sick
- 90% of procedures conducted on-site in our private, accredited endoscopy suites for your convenience
- Results in 10 days or less
Find out more about our services by contacting Colon & Rectal Specialists in Richmond, VA today. Our dedicated staff are prepared to address any questions or concerns you might have before you schedule your appointment.