Something really exciting happened to me recently at a social event.  I was at a dinner party and during a lull in the conversation; one man asked from across the table, “Hey, when should I get my colonoscopy?”   Now, this happens all the time when I am alone once people find out what I do for a living; but to hear it openly asked during dinner with friends was incredible!    Colon Cancer Awareness Month is coming up in March and thanks to people like Katie Couric and Ozzy Osborne, open discussions like this are more common and will save lives.  I thought I would write briefly about who should get a colonoscopy and when to get it.

First question:  Why would I want to get a colonoscopy?

The simple reason is that colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in the U.S., in both men and women.  You always hear about, “finding a cure to cancer,” and we actually do have the “cure” to the second leading cause of cancer death!  The key is, although colon cancer is very serious, it is highly preventable.    The reason it is preventable is that almost all colon cancer starts out as small colon polyps.   During a colonoscopy, we can easily and safely remove the polyps before they grow.

Second question:  When should I get my first colonoscopy?

The term colon cancer screening or screening colonoscopy refers to people who don’t have any “alarm” symptoms, but fit into these screening categories:
–    Anyone age 50 or older
–    Anyone age 40 or older, if a first degree relative has had a
polyp  or cancer
–    10 years prior to the age of a first degree relative who had a
polyp or cancer
–    People with others cancers in the family may need earlier
colonoscopy as well

Anyone with “alarm” symptoms should get a colonoscopy, regardless of age or family history.  Alarm symptoms include, but are not limited to:
•    Change in bowel habits (diarrhea or constipation)
•    Red or dark blood in stools
•    Weight loss
•    Fatigue or weakness
•    Abdominal pain, cramps, or gas
•    Bloating
•    Change in stool caliber


If any of those criteria or issues applies to you, please contact my office through the appointment page.  If you don’t have serious health conditions, my scheduler Araseli, will be able to arrange for the colonoscopy as “open access” colonoscopy.   This means you only have to schedule the colonoscopy visit and do not have to come in for an office visit prior to the procedure.

Disclaimer: The information presented on this website is not intended to take the place of your personal physician’s advice and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.  Discuss this information with your healthcare provider to determine what is right for you.  All information is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for specific medical condition