A colonoscopy is a screening procedure done in order to identify and/or prevent the onset of colon cancer. The American Cancer Society highly recommends colonoscopy as the most precise test that can lead to the removal of polyps detected during the procedure.
So the question is -- when should you get your first colonoscopy done and how often must you have it repeated? The answer to this question basically depends on how high you are on the risk factor vis-à-vis getting colon cancer.
The American Cancer Society, the American College of Radiology and the US Multi-Society Task Force on Colorectal Cancer have jointly put together a few guidelines in this matter, with three major risk levels and specific recommendations for each.
For someone with no family history of colon cancer and no display of symptoms indicating anything similar, it is advised to get one done at the age of 50. If the results indicate no sign of any abnormalities, then you can just have one test done every 10 years.
If, however, you or any immediate family member or members have had colon cancer in the past, then you are at an increased risk.
If one to two small polyps were removed during your last colonoscopy, you must have another one done between the next five to ten years. If it was between 3 and 10 polyps, get one done again after 3 years.
If colon cancer is a part of your family’s medical history, get your first colonoscopy done as soon as you turn 40, and repeat the process once every five years. A person who falls in the high risk category must get his first colonoscopy done as early as possible, ideally between age 20 and 25.
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