Never Had Colonoscopy Makes Risk Higher?

Last Modified: March 16, 2011

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Dear OncoLink "Ask The Experts,"

My mother has never had a colonoscopy and she is 58 years old. I understand she should have had one at age 50. Does this put her at higher risk to develop colon cancer?


David Metz, MD, Professor of Gastroenterology at Penn Medicine, responds:

Her risk for colorectal cancer is not higher because she has not had a colonoscopy per se as this is an innate risk. However, if she has polyps they are likely more advanced at age 58 than age 50 and are more likely to be "on the road to cancer". We generally recommend screening for average risk individuals to start at age 50 because this is the age at which the incidence of cancer starts rising. Remember that the aim of screening is to detect precancerous lesions that can be removed before cancer develops.

This question and answer was part of the OncoLink Brown Bag Chat Series. See the full transcript of Advances in Colorectal Cancer Screening.

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