Norman Regional Health System

New recommended age for colonoscopy 45.

Monday, June 21, 2021

It’s been widely known for some time now that those who are at average risk for colorectal cancer should get their colorectal cancer screening at age 50, but recently this age recommendation has been lowered to 45. This new recommendation comes as rates of colorectal cancer among people younger than 50 have been on the rise. Rahal Kahanda, MD, a specialist in colon and rectal surgery with Norman Regional, provides some insight into this change and why colonoscopies are so important.

“Colon and rectal cancer are definitely becoming more prevalent among the younger age groups,” Dr. Kahanda said. “I myself have taken care of patients as young as 19 that have needed colectomies, secondary to colon cancer and it was a sporadic colon cancer too. She didn’t have a family history and she wasn’t doing anything to put her at higher risk like smoking or anything.”

Are all genders at risk?

In addition to the younger demographics being affected to a higher degree by colorectal cancer, both women and men are affected to a fairly similar degree as well. This means that women should also plan to have a colorectal cancer screening by the age of 45.

“For both men and women the propensity of colorectal cancer is pretty evenly distributed,” Dr. Kahanda said. “When you parse it out between males and females, colorectal cancer is the No. 3 leading cause of death between either of them with prostate cancer in second for men, breast cancer in second for women and lung cancer in the lead for both. When you look at it collectively, it’s the second leading cancer-related cause of death as a whole among both men and women.”

Why are colonoscopies important?

Colonoscopies aren’t typically a topic that most enjoy discussing, but they are imperative to ensuring optimal colon and rectal health. The colonoscopy allows the colon and rectal specialist to check whether the patient has any precancerous lesions in the colon and if there are any, the cancerous lesions can be identified. Additionally, there are some nuances to determine the optimal time for a colonoscopy. 45 is simply the recommended age for those at average risk for colorectal cancer.

“Colonoscopies need to be performed 10 years earlier than the age at which the first-degree relative was diagnosed with colon cancer if it was before the age of 55. For instance, if my dad had colon cancer at the age of 50 I would need to be screened at 40. However if my first-degree relative had colon cancer at the age of 65 I would still start my colonoscopy is at 45,” Dr. Kahanda said. “The reason they are so imperative is that a colonoscopy is the only modality we can use that is both diagnostic and therapeutic in nature. Diagnostic meaning that we can evaluate to see if anything is there like a tumor or a polyp, but therapeutic as in we can also remove them if they are found during the colonoscopy, saving them from cancer in the future.”

If you know somebody who is nearing the age of 45, make sure that they have this information to stay on top of their health. To learn more about Dr. Kahanda, visit his provider page here.