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Prep! Colonoscopies Just Got Younger: New Screening Recommendations Start at Age 45

March 17, 2021

In the latest episode of the More Life podcast series, Dr. Jeffrey NestlerHartford Hospital Chief of Gastroenterology and Medical Co-Director of the Digestive Health Center, discusses new colonoscopy recommendations, advances made in preventing, detecting and treating colon cancer, the pros and cons of home test kits – and even dreaded colonoscopy prep.

The American Cancer Society and the American College of Gastroenterology recently changed the recommendation for colon cancer screening from age 50 to 45 – for those at average risk.

“You want to prevent colon cancer. You want to save your own life. Colon cancer is the third-most common cancer in the United States. It’s the second-most common cause of cancer death in the U.S.,” says Dr. Jeffrey Nestler.

“We’re seeing many more colon cancers occurring in individuals who are less than 50,” says Dr. Nestler, “and they are now recommending everyone who is average risk – just right off the street, turned 45 — they’re recommending now they start their screening at 45.”

Listen to the full podcast episode

Has the Dreaded Colonoscopy Prep Gotten Any Better?

“The prep is still the worst part but it’s not bad,” says Nestler. “We changed it to what we call a split-dose prep. You’re taking half the full dose twice. It’s easier to tolerate and it cleans out the colon a lot better.”

What About Home Test Kits?

Dr. Nestler stresses that any screening test is better than no screening test. Home test kits such as the FIT test and Cologuard are good at detecting colon cancer. But they are not effective at detecting colon polyps. You may miss precancerous lesions. If the results are positive, you’ll need the colonoscopy anyway. A colonoscopy is a one-step test.