When Should I Schedule My First Colonoscopy?

Colorectal cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed forms of cancer in the US, according to the American Cancer Society. Thanks to colonoscopies, it’s also one of the most preventable cancers.

As a highly skilled endoscopist, Dr. Nina Paonessa of Paonessa Colon & Rectal Surgery, PC, performs colonoscopies and successfully diagnoses and addresses related health concerns. Read on to learn more about this important test and when to schedule your first.

Colonoscopy basics

Colonoscopies are safe and painless, requiring only light sedation. During the procedure, Dr. Paonessa inserts a small, flexible camera into the inner lining of your rectum and colon. We use the test to check for numerous issues, such as:

  • Cancer
  • Irritated or swollen tissue
  • Polyps or tumors
  • Ulcers

During your colonoscopy, Dr. Paonessa can remove any polyps and take biopsies of any growths she finds. Removing polyps can help reduce your chances of developing colorectal cancer down the road. This is because over time, harmless polyps can grow into cancer and spread throughout your body. She can also harvest tissue samples to test for chronic conditions, such as ulcerative colitis.

Ideal age for your first colonoscopy

Your ideal age for an initial colonoscopy varies, based on factors such as your overall health and colon cancer risk factors. If you’re in good overall health and not African American, aim to have your first screening by age 50. If you are African American, your risk for colorectal cancer is higher, so you may benefit from colonoscopies starting at age 45.

Family history of colorectal cancer or having a digestive condition, such as Crohn’s disease or colitis, may also lead to earlier test recommendations.

Gastrointestinal reasons

No matter your age or race, Dr. Paonessa may recommend a colonoscopy if you’ve been experiencing unexplained gastrointestinal symptoms, such as:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Bloody diarrhea or stool
  • Other bowel habit changes
  • Rectal pain or bleeding

These symptoms often stem from mild conditions, such as hemorrhoids, or more serious issues, such as inflammatory bowel disease or cancer.

Colonoscopy frequency

Depending on your overall health, many people benefit from getting a colonoscopy at least once every 10 years after age 50. If your risk for cancer increases, due to factors such as high amounts of polyps, you may need to switch to every five years. From age 75 or 80 on, Dr. Paonessa may suggest no longer getting the tests, since possible complications may outweigh the benefits with older age.

To get your first colonoscopy or learn about your own colorectal cancer risk factors, call Paonessa Colon and Rectal Surgery Pc, or schedule an appointment with Dr. Nina Paonessa using our online booking feature.



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