Why Should I Get a Colonoscopy

Written By: Melissa M. Murphy, MD,  Executive Chief of Surgery, Care New England Health System; Chief of Surgery, Kent Hospital on September 7, 2021

"Should I get a colonoscopy" is a question I am frequently asked as a colon and rectal surgeon. The simple answer is YES - it could save your life. 

Recently, a young woman was referred to my office for hemorrhoids. She said she had been bleeding and having rectal pain for about a year - but didn’t want to bother her doctor during the COVID-19 pandemic. When she didn't get better, and the issue didn't resolve to her satisfaction, she finally sought help. After our exam, our conversation took a drastic change, and instead of talking about hemorrhoids, we were now talking about cancer.

Who should be screened?
The rate of colon cancer in younger patients (younger than 50 years old) is increasing and we, the medical community, do not know why. The American Cancer Society recently updated its colonoscopy screening guidelines and now recommends patients get their first colonoscopy beginning at the age of 45 instead of 50.

Most people in their mid-forties are not thinking about cancer prevention, because they are busy with work, kids, and the daily activities of life. I know this because I’m in that age range. However, we all must be vigilant about our health and well-being, so we can continue to enjoy the best quality of life possible. 


What are colon polyps?
It’s important to point out that even when you feel fine, without symptoms, you could have a colon polyp. A colon polyp is a small clump of cells that forms on the lining of the colon. Many of these colon polyps are harmless, but some, if left unchecked, can develop into cancer. If caught early, however, polyps can be removed BEFORE they become cancerous – thus preventing colon cancer. This is the best outcome for everyone involved.

You may feel embarrassed to talk about colon polyps and colon cancer, but we should all feel comfortable talking to our family members and loved ones about it for support and guidance. It's also important to note that if you have a strong family history of colon cancer you may be at increased risk and may need a colonoscopy earlier than the age of 45. So be sure to talk to your doctor about your risk factors.

Colon cancer is preventable!
You read that right.  Colon cancer is among the types of cancer that can be prevented.  A colonoscopy is a great tool medical experts use to prevent cancer. If you are 45 years old or older, have a strong family history, or are having symptoms in including rectal bleeding, rectal pain, or weight loss, please talk to your primary care doctor about colon cancer screening.

It can save your life!

Schedule A Colonoscopy


Melissa Murphy - HeadshotWritten by:

Melissa M. Murphy, MD, 

Executive Chief of Surgery, Care New England Health System

Chief of Surgery, Kent Hospital







Disclaimer: While I am a doctor, I am not your doctor.  The content in this blog is for informational and educational purposes only and should not serve as medical advice, consultation, or diagnosis.  If you have a medical concern, please consult your healthcare provider, or seek immediate medical treatment.