What Age Can You Stop Having A Colonoscopy?

A colonoscopy test is helpful in detecting colon cancer. The test consists of viewing the colon with the help of colonoscope, which is a small flexible tube comprising of a camera fixed to one end. A doctor inserts the tube through the rectum and passes slowly through the colon while viewing the structure on a computer. The visualization provides the ability for the doctor to detect abnormalities and polyps, which are capable of turning into cancer-causing cells. The colonoscope is also helpful in extracting tissue, which helps in conducting a biopsy.

What Age Can You Stop Having A Colonoscopy?

What Age Can You Stop Having A Colonoscopy?

When to stop a colonoscopy? According to a survey, a colonoscopy involving patients between the age group of 70 and 79 proved successful in reducing colon cancer risk slightly. However, it did not affect patients aged above 75. Nonetheless, several doctors state that it will be misguiding to stop the procedure for patients aged 75 and above. A better way to consider the circumstance is by looking into the overall health of the patient and estimating the life expectancy. Depending on this, the doctor can decide to perform a colonoscopy, identify the illness, and proceed with treatment accordingly.

The Risk Factors

New studies state that performing a colonoscopy on patients above 70 years of age is likely to provide any benefit. In numerous cases, exposing the age group increases the risk factors associated with colonoscopy. For example, the screening test to identify the presence of colon cancer is inappropriate if the doctor recommended it often and performed on patients aged above 75 years. The location of the patient and the doctor they consult also affect the decision of having a colonoscopy. For a few physicians, more than 40% of the tests carried out on the patients were not in line with the screening guidelines.

Many physicians are overusing the colonoscopy for seniors. According to the guidelines prescribed by the United States Preventive Services Task Force, yearly screening is feasible for individuals who are 50 years and above with reduced risk of developing colon cancer. If the result of the first test is negative, the doctor should recommend screening only after a decade. However, if the patient reaches the age of 75 and above, then it is not feasible to prescribe a colonoscopy, according to the guidelines.

Colon Cancer

Identifying colon cancer with the help of colonoscopy is an accurate method. However, it is essential to understand that colon cancer progresses slowly. Therefore, if the first result is negative or if the doctor identifies minute traces of polyps or abnormal growths that lead to the development of cancer, they can eliminate them during the diagnosis period. In such instances, the doctor can ask the patient to perform a screening test after 5 years. Additionally, because of the slow progression, detecting it in early-stage in older adults become difficult. Besides, the test has a few complications, such as bleeding, and perforation of the intestine.

Inappropriate Colonoscopies

Apart from causing trouble to the patient, inappropriate colonoscopy also consumes resources which otherwise are helpful in screening for patients who are in need of the test. Although, the patients have control over deciding to undergo a colonoscopy, both the health care system and the physician influences the decision. A better way to avoid all the unwanted and misleading guidance is by understanding about the screening guidelines and the risks associated with the examination. A better approach is by conducting and improving communication between the doctor and the patients using public education campaigns.


A colonoscopy is not necessary for an individual who reached 75 years of age. According to the guidelines, screening starts at the age of 50, and further examination is viable only if the results turn positive. Avoiding all the hassles and risks associated with a colonoscopy is possible by understanding the guidelines prescribed by the Preventive Services Task Force of the United States.

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Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:April 17, 2018

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