How Early Is Too Early For Your First Colonoscopy?

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The American Medical Association (AMA) recommends that all Americans be screened for colorectal cancer beginning at age 50. In many cases, this screening takes place by way of a colonoscopy. But if you're well under age 50, should you seek a colonoscopy if you're dealing with other digestive issues? Read on to learn more about this procedure and when it may provide some important health information to those who are in their twenties, thirties, and forties.

What Is Involved in a Colonoscopy?

After the Today Show's then-host Katie Couric's husband died of colon cancer, Couric underwent a colonoscopy herself. She even bravely showed the video to viewers nationwide in an effort to boost awareness and early screening for this deadly disease. While the average American adult today is more aware of colon cancer than most were just a few generations ago, many still avoid the colonoscopy process due to embarrassment, nervousness, or worries about the discomfort they may experience during the process.

Before you have a colonoscopy, you'll be required to drink a beverage that promises to "clean you out." This allows the camera to gain an unobstructed view of the inside of your colon to identify any growths, lesions, or other problem spots.

Depending on your level of nervousness, you may be prescribed anti-anxiety medication to take just before your procedure or even put under mild anesthesia that generates a "twilight sleep" stage. The doctor will then insert a thin, flexible camera probe into your rectum, taking a video of the inside of your colon. After reviewing the video, the doctor will either send you off with a clean bill of health or schedule follow-up testing, like polyp removal or a biopsy, to determine what further action should be taken.

When Should Those Under 50 Schedule a Colonoscopy?

Because the risk of colon cancer increases with age, the AMA recommends 50 as a good starting point for regular colon cancer screenings. But there are a number of conditions, including some rarer cases of colon cancer, that also impact younger people and can be easily diagnosed with a colonoscopy.

Generally speaking, if you've been experiencing symptoms like dark blood in your school (not bright red blood, which is usually associated with an external injury), a major change in bowel habits or the inability to pass feces, seeking out a colonoscopy can be a good idea. This procedure will ensure that you don't have any polyps or other intestinal obstructions that can harm your colon health, along with providing you with well-deserved peace of mind.

For more information, contact a company like Lincoln Surgical Group PC.