Do I Need a Screening Colonoscopy?
- Written by Los Angeles Colonoscopy
Colon Cancer at a Glance:
Colon cancer is the second most common cancer in the U.S., and a leading cause of death related to cancer. In fact, there are nearly 150,000 new cases of colon and rectal cancers diagnosed each year, just in the U.S. In fact, there are twice as many individuals dying from colon cancer than from motor vehicle accidents!
Like most cancers, the risk of colon cancer increases with age, particularly after the age of 50. The incidence increases gradually over time afterwards. As a result, most individuals are recommended to undergo screening colonoscopy starting at the age of 50. If the initial colonoscopy shows no abnormality and the examination is of good quality (e.g. the gastroenterologist was able to adequately examine the colon and the preparation was satisfactory), then a follow-up examination is advised every 10 years thereafter. However, if an abnormality such as polyp is found, then subsequent examination will be decided likely be dependent on the size, number and type of polyp found. In addition, if there are other symptoms such as bleeding, abdominal pain, weight loss, or change in bowel habit, a follow-up examination will have to be tailored depending on the extent of these symptoms.
For those with a family history of colon cancer or polyp, the current recommendation is to move up the first screening examination to 40 and repeat it every 10 years, since there is an increased risk of developing colon cancer in these individuals.
Fortunately, colon cancer is one of few cancers that can be entirely prevented by having a timely screening examination. This is because cancer can be easily treated at an early stage, and some can even be removed during colonoscopy, before it has a chance to grow, spread, and become difficult to treat. In fact, the risk of developing and dying from colon cancer can be essentially eliminated by undergoing a simple screening colonoscopy examination. Therefore, having a colonoscopy can be a life-saving decision!