After years public education from the family physicians, health insurance companies, and media exposure, more people in Minnesota know that average risk patients should have their first colonoscopy at 50 year old. Actually, the age at which we should have our first colonoscopy varies according to the level of risk for developing colon cancer. Recommended ages for a colonoscopy are based on risk levels from the national professional organizations. Our risk of colon cancer helps determine when to get a colonoscopy.
You are at average risk if you have no other risk factors besides age. Most people in Minnesota belong to this group. This group of people should have colonoscopy at age 50.
You have an increased risk if you have the immediate family members who have had colon cancer. This group of people should have a colonoscopy at age 40 or 10 years earlier than the age of that family member when diagnosed.
You are at high risk if you have a family history of certain colorectal cancer syndromes such as Familial adenomatous polyposis or if you have an inflammatory bowel disease such as ulcerative colitis. The recommended age for a colonoscopy for people in this category could be very young, as young as 20s years.
The above recommended ages for a colonoscopy are the general guideline for discussions with your doctor about your particular situation. Each case is different, and there is no set of recommendations right for every individual in the Minneapolis and St. Paul areas.