Over the last decade, colon cancer rates have dropped dramatically. This comes with a corresponding increase in colonoscopies, especially among people between 50 and 75 years old. Medicare covers colonoscopies once every 10 years for beneficiaries at average risk.

In 2000, only 19 percent of people in that age range had had their colonoscopies; by 2010, that number was 55 percent. Between 2001 and 2010, the rate of colon cancer dropped by 3.4 percent per year. A possible explanation is that colonoscopies that detect and remove precancerous polyps are able to prevent the development of this potentially fatal disease.

[CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians, March/April 2014]

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  1. Joe

    I should have one every 5 years. The last one, though, made me do a rethink.
    I don’t like to you any medication to relax or anesthetize. That last turn in my colon is very tough and takes patience on the part of the physician. The last time, the physician said to the nurse, “Give him something.” She said, “He does not want anything.” Then he got a call from his wife. He was on his cell phone for just a short while. After his phone call that last turn went well.
    I learned from that: it was the physician that needed to relax, not me.
    Maybe if I could get to meet the physician before the procedure to see if we are a match, I would not have any doubts. But like anesthesiologists and anesthetists, we don’t know who that will be until the procedure is about to start.

  2. DS

    I have had several but it seemed that the doctor was doing them awfully fast and I began to worry that “experienced” doctors as not as careful and rush through them, and injuries result. I think I’d rather have the new DNA test. Besides, I hate the prep. That cannot be good for my gut.

  3. Andy

    Anybody mess’n around with me below my belt line better be blond, hazel eye’d, and married to me….

  4. GS

    I just had my first at 55. Thought I would never have another. Less than 1 month later had to have second to remove a 30 mm wide flat polyp. 6 polyps in all. Luck for me, no signs of cancer.
    Just go do it!

  5. Merle K.

    My father died from a colonoscopy at age 86. We think he had a microperforation, because he doubled over in pain less than 2 days later, and was rushed to an ER, with sepsis. He died 3 weeks later.
    Several doctors I’ve spoken to since questioned the wisdom of doing colonoscopies on people of that age because of the fragility of their tissues. I asked one doctor I consulted with for my first colonoscopy about his complication rate, his response was startling: he said he hadn’t had any, “so I guess I’m due”.
    While that must’ve been his way of letting me know he didn’t want to do mine, I certainly didn’t want him to do it either, and it took another three years for me to get up my courage to have one. Now, I know I should have another one, but I’m not any more eager than I was before.

  6. DB

    My physician says that a yearly fecal blood test is as good as colonoscopies as a cancer screen. Also much cheaper, less invasive & lower risk.

  7. Kahleen

    Good information…

  8. Henry L.

    Obviously, colonoscopies are a valuable diagnostic/prevention tool! So why are persons of age 80 or over not allowed to have the procedure without a doctor’s specific order based upon one’s probably HAVING colon cancer?

  9. Noah V.

    My father died of colon cancer. I am 68 y/o and have had five colonoscopies. And I am alive.

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