When Should You have a Colonoscopy?: Screening Guidelines

June 4, 2019

colonoscopyColorectal cancer is the third leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States, but it doesn’t have to be.  Among all forms of cancer, colorectal cancer has some of the best survival rates when detected early.  Furthermore, it is also one of the most preventable cancers, with as many as 90 percent of cases being avoidable when pre-cancerous polyps are found and removed.  These statistics are prime examples of why colon cancer screenings such as colonoscopies are so important.

When Should You Have Your First Colonoscopy?

In the past, it was recommended that initial colonoscopy screenings in average risk patients begin at the age of 50.  Recently, the American Cancer Society has changed this recommendation to 45.  What is seen during this initial procedure will dictate if any other action should be taken and how frequently the screening should be repeated. 

How Often Should You have a Colonoscopy?

The frequency with which a colonoscopy should be repeated depends on factors such as patient risk and previous screening results.  While most patients will only need to repeat their screening every 10 years, there are others who may need annual tests.  Risk factors which can influence how frequently colonoscopies are recommended can include:

  • Family history of polyps or colorectal cancer
  • Having a form of inflammatory bowel disease such as Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis
  • Having a hereditary syndrome such as Lynch syndrome or familial adenomatous polyposis

Colonoscopy Screening Recommendations by Age for Average Risk Patients


Recommended Screening Intervals

45 – 75

Baseline colonoscopy at 45 and screenings every 10 years thereafter (or at physician recommended intervals)

76 – 85

Factors such as previous screening results and overall physical health will determine if colonoscopies should occur more frequently at this time.

Over 85

Colonoscopies are no longer recommended after the age of 85.


Colonoscopies for Baton Rouge Patients

If it is time for your own colonoscopy and you live in Baton Rouge or the surrounding areas, Lane Gastroenterology is a smart and convenient choice.  With a highly skilled gastroenterologist and compassionate team, patients can rely on the care they need from people they trust.  To learn more about this latest addition to Lane’s services and the schedule an appointment, click below.

Learn More About Lane Gastroenterology