Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"How often should I have a colonoscopy?"
I'm 50 years old and think its time I start having a colonoscopy. How often should I have one to make sure that I can avoid any kind of serious problem? I've heard a lot of conflicting things about this.
A colonoscopy, as you probably know, is a special procedure in which a camera on the end of a long flexible tube is introduced into the colon. The device is used to look for evidence of growths in the colon, which could be precursors to colon cancer. Colonoscopy has been shown to lower the risk of getting colon cancer significantly. Generally speaking it is recommended that all persons older than 50 years of age should have a colonoscopy. Based on what is found in the colonoscopy, your doctor will give your recommendations on how frequently you need to repeat it. For example, a totally normal colonoscopy should be repeated only every 10 years; however, if certain types of growths or other abnormalities are found, you may need to repeat more frequently than this. Also, it is important to remember that these recommendations are only for those with average colon cancer risk. If you have a strong family history of colon cancer or one of several genetic syndromes, you may need to be screened more frequently as well. I suggest that you set up a visit with your primary care doctor They will be able to perform a general physical exam and schedule the colonoscopy for you and they will also be able to give you more advice about colon cancer risk factors.
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