Everyone is at risk for colon cancer, but certain risk factors and conditions can increase the likelihood of developing the disease. One condition that can increase the risk of colon cancer is inflammatory bowel disease.
What Is Inflammatory Bowel Disease?
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a general term that describes chronic inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract. There are two types of IBD:
- Ulcerative colitis — a chronic condition that causes inflammation of the colon
- Crohn’s disease — a chronic condition that affects the digestive tract lining. Patients with Crohn’s disease may have healthy parts of the intestine as well as inflamed regions in both the small and large bowel.
Patients with IBD experience an increased risk of colorectal cancer (CRC) than those who do not have IBD. For example, patients with IBD have a seven percent increase in colorectal cancer risk after 30 years of disease (Crohns and Colitis Foundation).
How Often Should IBD Patients Have a Colonoscopy?
A new study published in Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology evaluated how varying colonoscopy intervals affected colon cancer outcomes in patients with IBD. The study examined how different colonoscopy intervals affected outcomes such as:
- Stage at the time of detection
- Colon cancer treatment
- Reducing mortality
The study results found patients with IBD who had a colonoscopy every one to three years were less likely to be diagnosed with advanced colon cancer.
“Colonoscopy within three years prior to colon cancer diagnosis compared with no colonoscopy was less likely to be diagnosed with late tumor stage,” said Hun-seok Kim, MD, MPH, of Baylor College of Medicine. “Colonoscopy within one year was associated with lower all-cause mortality than no colonoscopy. Our findings support the use of surveillance colonoscopy to improve CRC outcomes in IBD patients” (Healio).
Colonoscopy Protects Against Colon Cancer
Although there are many screenings for colon cancer, colonoscopy is the gold standard. It is the only test that allows a doctor to detect and remove pre-cancerous polyps in the same procedure. Because IBD increases colon cancer risk, patients with IBD need to schedule a colonoscopy at recommended intervals.
Experts estimate that 60 to 90 percent of colon cancer deaths could be prevented if everyone 45 years of age and older had a routine colonoscopy.
Schedule a Colonoscopy at Age 45
Did you know that the recommended age for colon cancer screening was recently lowered from age 50 to 45? Many people believe that colonoscopy is expensive, painful or time-consuming, but these assumptions are myths. Thanks to new technology and state-of-the-art equipment, your screening can be affordable and pain free, and you only need to miss one day of work.
Find a Gastroenterologist in Your Area
Don’t delay in scheduling your colonoscopy. We can help you find a fellowship-trained gastroenterologist in your local area. Simply enter your zip code here to locate a GI doctor near you. Colonoscopies are life-saving procedures, so call today and make an appointment for a screening.