Showing posts from March, 2014

When to Get a Colonoscopy

When you turn 50 years old, you enter the "procedure years".  Fifty is the magic age for getting a screening colonoscopy.  Why age 50?  Most gastrointestinal cancers are more prevalent as a person ages.  So guidelines are set to benefit the largest numbers of patients by recommending "screening" tests to detect cancer while it can still be removed completely and cured.  The key word here is screening.  That means there are no symptoms and the doctor is just doing surveillance. If a person has symptoms, family genetic cancers or other conditions that increase the chance of cancer the magic age of 50 doesn't apply and colonoscopy can be done at any time to diagnose a problem.

There are also clinical guidelines for continuing follow-up screening and here is where it gets muddled.  Gastroenterologists often don't adhere to these guidelines and patients can be confused as to when they should get a repeat exam.  These guidelines assume the baseline colonoscopy w…