A colonoscopy is a medical procedure designed to find abnormalities in the colon or large intestine of a patient. The procedure itself involves a narrow, flexible tube with an attached camera being lowered into your bowels, and is primarily used to test for colorectal cancer. Although understanding what the procedure is designed to do is simple, many people are confused about how frequently a colonoscopy should be done. In truth, it can be highly variable – In this article, we examine this question in detail to give you a better idea of how often someone in your particular position should be getting a colonoscopy
Why and when you should get your first colonoscopy?
When you get your first colonoscopy in Brisbane, Melbourne, or wherever else you may live, it is generally related to your overall age and health, but by the age of 50 most people will be undergoing regular colonoscopies regardless of gender or overall health. This is for the most part due to the chance of developing polyps and bowel cancer increases significantly as you age, so getting regular check-ups can help you find any abnormalities before they become too serious. Getting a colonoscopy for those younger than 50 is usually tied to a family history of bowel cancer, but you may also be getting regular colonoscopies if you have previously been negatively affected by issues with your digestive tract, such as irritable bowel syndrome and inflammatory bowel disease. It is not uncommon for people in this position to get a colonoscopy more than one time a year, as risk of developing severe issues is significantly increased. If you’re unsure about how often you should be getting a colonoscopy and you have suffered or are suffering from severe digestive issues, your doctor can provide guidance.
Those considered at risk of bowel cancer.
If you have a family history of bowel cancer, your first colonoscopy should occur much earlier on. For example, if you have a close blood-relative who has been diagnosed with bowel cancer, getting screened from the age of 35 is a wise idea. High risk of bowel cancer is not just related to bowel cancer diagnoses in your family, as there are many other factors that can increase your risk. These can include a family history cancerous polyps, conditions like Crohn’s disease and if you’ve previously had surgery on your colon or had some of it removed. In the event that you’ve had polyps in your colon removed, it is generally recommended that you get a colonoscopy 5 years afterwards. If you have experienced diverticulosis, you will need to get a colonoscopy every 5 to 8 years. Although it is recommended that most people get a colonoscopy once every 10 years (minimum) after they turn 50, for those between the 75 – 80 range, the risk of complications can often outweigh the benefits of this procedure.
How often should you get a colonoscopy?
In general, if you’re in good health you should only need a colonoscopy once every 10 years after you turn 50, but if you can relate to any of the circumstances from above this will obviously need to occur more frequently, and often from an earlier age. The best tell is to ask your doctor, as they will have your comprehensive medical history and can make suggestions accordingly.