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Sentara Martha Jefferson Monday: New Colonoscopy Screening Recommendations

ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) -

Recently, the American Cancer Society changed their guidelines and is now recommending both men and women start having colonoscopies at age 45.  Previously, the beginning age recommendation was 50. 

“They actually found that the incidence of colorectal cancer was increasing from the ages of 20-54 with the biggest increase in the rate from ages from 20-34,” said Dr. Arun Mannem, a physician with Charlottesville Gastroenterology Associates. 

Although the rate of colon cancer in younger populations is rising, there’s not firm evidence as to why. 

“Unfortunately we don’t know,” said Dr. Mannem. “There are a lot of theories out there about what it might be, whether it be environmental, obesity, lifestyle, etc.  At this time we just don’t know.” 

Doctors at Charlottesville Gastroenterology Associates stress that the guidelines for screenings are for people who aren’t experiencing any symptoms.  If you are younger than 45 and are having problems, always talk with your doctor. 

Currently, the American Cancer Society is the only organization to make the recommendation.  While doctors wait for other experts to weigh in, they do feel it’s exciting to be able to screen people earlier and hopefully catch cancers before they become a problem. 

“The new data and the new recommendations are shedding a light on a problem we’re seeing. 
We’re seeing a younger patient population be diagnosed with possibly a deadly disease, so therefore it’s exciting they are bringing light to it,” said Dr. Mannem. 

If you are 45 or older and are considering a colonoscopy it’s always best to talk with your doctors about what is right for you.  You also need to speak with your insurance about your coverage options. 

For more information on this topic, please call 1-800-SENTARA. If you have questions about your health you’d like us to answer, email healthquestions@nbc29.com.

Sentara Martha Jefferson Monday

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