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When To Get A Colonoscopy And When Not To Have One

Jan 5

Colonoscopy is the most reliable diagnostic for colon and rectum cancer, with a track record of early detection and life-saving results. Even a good test, however, might be repeated too often. When do you need it, and when do you think you don't?


It is normally unnecessary to get a colonoscopy more than once every five to 10 years

In adults, a grape-like growth in the colon or rectum, known as a polyp, is rather frequent and typically harmless. However, certain polyps, known as adenomas, have the potential to become cancerous in the future. During a colonoscopy, a flexible, lighted tube is used to inspect the colon and rectum, and polyps may be found and removed. If the test reveals no adenomas or cancer and you don't have any risk factors, your chances of having the condition in the following 10 years are slim. Because the test misses only a small percentage of adenomas, and colorectal cancer is a slow-growing malignancy, this is the case. Even if one or two tiny, low-risk adenomas are removed, you're unlikely to develop cancer for at least five years, so repeating the test sooner isn't worth it. As a result, most individuals only require the test once every 10 years, with just a few people who have bigger, more significant polyps needing it more often than every five years.


It's possible that the test will be dangerous

Colonoscopy is a technique that is both safe and effective. Heavy bleeding, colon rips, diverticulitis (inflammation or infection of pouches in the colon), severe stomach discomfort, and complications in persons with heart or blood vessel illness are all possible side effects. Blood transfusions, surgery, hospitalization, and, in rare cases, death may be required as a result of complications. There are certain drawbacks to the exam. Prior to beginning, you must limit your meals and take laxatives. Furthermore, since the test requires anesthesia, someone must transport you home, and you may have to miss work. As a result, you should not take the exam more than once.


When does it make sense to use it?

Most individuals should begin colon cancer screening at the age of 50. If a colonoscopy reveals no adenomas or cancer and you don't have any risk factors, your next test should be 10 years later. The exam should be done every five to ten years if one or two tiny, low-risk adenomas are removed. If you have IBD, a history of many, big, or high-risk adenomas, or a parent, sibling, or child who has had colorectal cancer or adenomas, ask your doctor when and how frequently you should undergo a colonoscopy. After the age of 75, routine checkups are seldom necessary.



Colon cancer prevention:

The steps below may be useful:

Adjust your way of life. Consume more fruits, vegetables, and healthy grains while consuming less fatty meals and red or processed meats. Exercising, limiting drinking, and not smoking are all good ideas.

Obtain precise test outcomes. Before the operation, carefully follow your doctor's recommendations for bowel preparation. If you have any concerns, please contact the office and speak with a nurse.

Think about more possibilities. If you're at average risk, discuss additional test choices with your doctor and inquire about insurance coverage. Flexible sigmoidoscopy, which utilizes a small tube to inspect the rectum and lower colon, and CT colonography, which uses a tube put into the rectum and an X-ray scanner to make images, are two more techniques that may detect polyps and cancer and need intestinal preparation. Stool tests, which do not need intestinal preparation, may detect symptoms of cancer. A colonoscopy must be performed if abnormalities on an alternate test are discovered.

Signals of impending danger should be reported. Changes in bowel habits that persist a week or two, such as rectal bleeding, black or narrow stools, constipation or diarrhea, stomach pains, or the impulse to empty your bowels when you don't have to are among them. Later warning symptoms include persistent tiredness, anemia, and unexplained weight loss.