Need Colon Cancer Screening?

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: When should I be screened for colon cancer?

Nancy Kemeny, MD
The usual thing is at 50 years old, because colon cancer, in the general population, really goes up after 50. So before 50, it's rare. It's not that it doesn't happen and you shouldn't just assume it doesn't happen, because it does, but it's rare, and after 50, it starts going up. So the suggestion is to do a colonoscopy at 50 years old, and then some of the screening things say every 10 years, I think they are going to have a new panel about this right now, whether it should be 5 years or 10 years.

Nancy Kemeny, MD (cont.)
And in the past, it used to be sigmoidoscopies, which was lower down, so you would only see part of the colon. And you need the same prep, the same cleanout, which is the worst part of the colonoscopy, is that you have to take this drink and have numerous bowel movements, you know, which isn't pleasant, but it's only for a few hours, so it shouldn't scare people from having the test. Because the actual colonoscopy, most people don't even feel. They are asleep for the whole procedure. They are not intubated, but they are just given an injection of something that makes them fall asleep and they don't even feel the whole procedure. So it's not a painful procedure and the sigmoidoscopies which were done with a scope that was shorter, so it only went up a certain distance, the problem with that is for instance, that women tend to have more right sided colon legions, and you wouldn't even reach those with a sigmoidoscopy.