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What are Colonoscopy Screening Guidelines for Colorectal Cancer?

a doctor discussing results with a patient

Colonoscopy screening is one of the most effective ways to detect and prevent colorectal cancer. It is a test that is performed by a doctor, who uses a thin tube with a light and camera at the end to look inside the entire length of the large intestine. This test can be used to not only diagnose colorectal cancer, but also to detect and remove polyps before they have a chance to become cancerous. 

The American Cancer Society recommends that adults between the ages of 45 and 75 have a colonoscopy screening test done every 10 years. Those who have a personal or family history of colorectal cancer or polyps may need to start colonoscopy screenings at a younger age, or more frequently. 

Your doctor may also recommend a colonoscopy if you’re experiencing any symptoms, such as blood in the stool, persistent abdominal pain, or changes in your bowel habits. Colonoscopy screenings are not without risks. Minor symptoms such as bloating and cramping are possible. There is also a small risk of bleeding or injuring the wall of the colon. 

However, the potential benefits of catching cancer in its earliest stages far outweigh any risks associated with the procedure. Since colorectal cancer won’t manifest any symptoms until its advanced stage, screening is the best way to catch it in its earliest stages, when it’s most treatable. 

It’s important to talk to your doctor about the pros and cons of colonoscopy screening tests and when you should start getting screened for colorectal cancer. 

Risk Factors for Colorectal Cancer

Risk factors for colorectal cancer include age, family history, smoking, high alcohol consumption, a diet high in processed or red meat and low in vegetables and fruits, and certain inherited conditions. 

If you are at higher risk, your doctor may recommend starting screenings earlier or performing them more frequently. While anyone can develop colorectal cancer, certain factors can increase your risk. 

The risk of colorectal cancer increases with age, and it is more common in people over the age of 50. Other factors that may increase your risk include a family history of the disease, obesity, smoking, and a sedentary lifestyle

People with inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis are also at an increased risk of developing colorectal cancer. Although there is no sure way to prevent colorectal cancer, there are steps you can take to reduce your risk. 

Eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and getting regular screenings are all key to reducing your risk. Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins can help reduce your risk.

Steps to reduce your risk of developing colorectal cancer include maintaining a healthy diet, exercising regularly, stop smoking, reducing alcohol intake, and undergoing regular screenings. If you are at high risk, talk to your doctor about your screening needs.

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