BY DEAN PAPPAS M.D.
Colorectal cancer is the most preventable kind of cancer, and a key to prevention is proper screenings and testing. At Colon and Rectal Surgical Specialists of New York here in Garden City, we are committed to helping every patient who visits by providing excellent general care and detailed information.
Undergoing a colonoscopy can prevent colorectal cancer and allow for removal of polyps. It’s important that people understand when a colonoscopy should be performed, which is what we’d like to go over right now.
A colonoscopy is a diagnostic procedure that allows colorectal specialists to examine the colon and bowel. The procedure is done by inserting a small tube with a camera at the into the anus. The patient will be sedated while undergoing the colonoscopy in order to minimize pain and discomfort. Prior to undergoing a colonoscopy, the patient will need to pass all solid matter and ingest only clear liquids and a special solution designed to irrigate the bowel.
When should I begin getting tested?
The vast majority of Americans are recommended to get colonoscopies starting at age 50, with another colonoscopy every 10 years. This applies to most men and women, who have a 1 in 20 risk of developing colorectal cancer.
If a person suffers from inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease, the risk of colorectal cancer is higher and screening recommendations will differ. Be sure to consult with your physician about these matters.
Why age 50?
Cancer risk increases with age, and more than 90 percent of colorectal cancer cases occur in people who are older than 50. Colorectal cancer tends to begin as polyps that take at least 10 years to develop into full-blown cancer. This schedule for testing is a common sense measure. An additional colonoscopy or other diagnostic procedures for the bowel can performed in the intervening years in case of risk or concern.
Should I wait on getting a colorectal exam if I’m of average risk?
Even if your family does not have a history of colorectal cancer, you can still develop colorectal cancer. Getting tested as recommended allows for proper cancer prevention and removal of polyps.
Even though colorectal cancer is the most preventable kind of cancer, research finds that it affects approximately 150,000 Americans every year. If more people underwent colonoscopies as recommended, this number would be lower.
Is there a cap on patient age for colonoscopy?
Generally, colonosopies are not recommended for patients who are older than 85 years old. Sometimes patients may not undergo a colonoscopy at age 80, though this depends on the overall health and wellness of the patient. This should be discussed with your physician if you are older than 75.
Learn More Colorectal Surgery
For more information about colorectal cancer, prevention of cancer, and special medical care needs for conditions that affect the bowel and digestive tract, be sure contact our colorectal surgery specialists today. We will provide each patient with the information they need so that they can make well-informed choices about their treatment and screening options.