A new study confirms a minimum ten-year interval between colonoscopies offers optimum protection against colon cancer mortality.
In May 2018, the American Cancer Society revised its colon cancer screening recommendations, suggesting all adults at average risk for colorectal cancer should schedule an initial screening at age 45 instead of age 50. The ACS altered the guideline because young-onset colon cancer incidence continues to increase, and this type of cancer tends to be aggressive and difficult to diagnose among the young.
Colonoscopy is the most effective colon cancer screening method because it is the only test that can detect and remove colon cancer in the same procedure. Under current guidelines, patients who have a colonoscopy with normal findings should get screened again in ten years. However, is this still the best method for preventing colon cancer?
According to Jeffery K. Lee, M.D., MAS, patients should feel confident about the current recommendation of a minimum ten-year interval between colonoscopies with normal findings. Dr. Lee and colleagues examined data from a large-scale study that included more than 1.2 million individuals to assess when patients should schedule their next screening following a normal colonoscopy.
For patients who declined colonoscopy, colon cancer incidence and colon cancer-related death increased proportionally with follow-up time. Patients who chose regular colonoscopies had very favorable results. Average risk patients with normal colonoscopy test results were 46 percent less likely to develop colon cancer and 88 percent less likely to die of colon cancer when screened at recommended ten-year intervals.
“A minimum colorectal rescreening interval should be conducted at 10 years or possibly longer after a normal colonoscopy,” said Dr. Lee. “Discontinuing rescreening may be advised when managing patients who have less than a 10-year life expectancy.” (Physicians Weekly).
One of the most common myths about colon cancer is that only older adults can develop the disease. No one is too young for colon cancer. Your risk for colon cancer is unique. Ethnicity, family history and lifestyle habits influence your colon cancer risk, and these factors could influence your recommended colonoscopy interval. The best way to find out your recommended colonoscopy interval is to talk to a qualified gastroenterologist.
|If You||Then You Should|
|Are experiencing symptoms||Talk to your doctor immediately|
|Have a family history of colon cancer or colon polyps||Get screened at age 40 or 10 years before the age of the youngest case in your immediate family (mother, father, sister, brother)|
|Are African American||Get screened at age 45 or younger|
|Have a genetic link to colorectal cancer such as Lynch Syndrome, FAP||Talk to your doctor and get screened before age 45|
|Have a personal history of cancer||Talk to your doctor and get screened before age 45|
|Have ulcerative colitis, inflammatory bowel disease or Crohn’s disease||Talk to your doctor and get screened before age 45|
(Source: Colorectal Cancer Alliance)
Your gastroenterologist will make customized recommendations for your colonoscopy intervals. Please note that your insurance may not pay for a colonoscopy until you are 50 years of age, so call your insurance provider to get the most up-to-date information about your policy. If you are at higher risk for colon cancer, your doctor may encourage you to get screened earlier. Keep in mind that a colon cancer screening today can prevent your risk of expensive medical bills in the future.
If you have questions about your digestive health, it is time to call a specialist. Our board-certified gastroenterologists are compassionate and knowledgeable, and they are accepting new patients. Click here and enter your zip code in the orange box. You can select a GI treatment center near your home and call to schedule an appointment.