Colorectal Care for Adults: Age-Specific Screening and Risks

Here in Australia, maintaining good colorectal health is just as crucial as anywhere else. As we age, our risk for certain colorectal conditions increases. Understanding age-specific screening recommendations and potential risks from your colorectal surgeon empowers you to take proactive steps towards maintaining our health. Here’s insight from a leading female surgeon and colorectal surgeon in Melbourne.

The Importance of Colorectal Screening in Australia

Bowel cancer, another term for colorectal cancer, is the second most common cancer diagnosed in Australia, affecting both men and women. Early detection through screening significantly improves survival rates. Bowel cancer often develops from precancerous polyps, which can be removed through screening procedures before they turn cancerous.

Age-Specific Screening Guidelines in Australia

The recommended age to begin bowel cancer screening in Australia also varies depending on individual risk factors. Here’s a breakdown of the general guidelines:

  • Age 45: The Cancer Council Australia recommends starting regular screening for adults with an average risk at age 45. This is a recent update, with the previous starting age being 50.
  • Individual Risk Factors: Certain factors can increase your risk and necessitate earlier screening. Examples include:
    • Personal history of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) like Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis.
    • Family history of bowel cancer or polyps in a close relative.
    • Genetic conditions like Lynch syndrome or familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP).
    • History of heavy smoking.

Common Colorectal Screening Tests in Australia

Several colorectal screening tests are available in Australia. Here’s an overview:

  • Stool-based tests: The National Bowel Cancer Screening Program (NBCSP) offers a free Faecal Immunochemical Test (FIT) every two years to eligible Australians aged 50 to 74.
  • Colonoscopy: This gold-standard test remains an option and allows a colorectal surgeon in Melbourne to directly visualise the entire colon and rectum.
  • Sigmoidoscopy: Similar to a colonoscopy, but this procedure only examines the lower portion of the colon (sigmoid colon and rectum).
  • Virtual Colonoscopy (CT Colonography): This non-invasive imaging test may be offered as an alternative to colonoscopy in some cases.

Understanding Age-Related

As we age, our risk for certain colorectal conditions evolves:

  • Age 40-50: This age range marks the starting point for average-risk individuals to begin screening due to the increasing risk of bowel cancer development.
  • Age 50-74: The NBCSP program offers free FIT tests within this age group to promote early detection.
  • Age 75+: While screening remains an option, discussions with your colorectal surgeon in Melbourne regarding individual health and life expectancy become crucial.

Additional Considerations for Seniors (Age 75+)

Similar to other countries, considerations for seniors include:

  • Life Expectancy: Screening may not be beneficial for individuals with a limited life expectancy due to other health conditions.
  • Comorbidities: Underlying health problems can increase risks associated with certain screening procedures. Discussing options with your colorectal surgeon in Melbourne is essential.

Maintaining Colorectal Health Beyond Screening

While screening plays a crucial role, lifestyle factors also contribute to colorectal health down under:

  • Diet: A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains promotes a healthy gut. Limit red meat, processed foods, and sugary drinks.
  • Exercise: Regular physical activity helps maintain a healthy weight and reduces overall cancer risk.
  • Healthy Weight Management: Excess weight is a risk factor for bowel cancer.
  • Quit Smoking: Smoking significantly increases bowel cancer risk. Quitting smoking is one of the most impactful steps for improving colorectal health.

Colorectal Concerns? Speak to a Leading Female Surgeon for Bowel Screening Today

Colorectal health is an ongoing journey. By understanding age-specific screening recommendations and potential risks, you can work with your colorectal surgeon in Melbourne to develop a personalised plan for proactive bowel care. Remember, early detection is key to successful treatment. Don’t hesitate to discuss any concerns with your colorectal surgeon in Melbourne and take charge of your colorectal health at every stage of life. Remember, you can request a female surgeon if this makes you more comfortable during screening procedures.