Are you among the majority of people who dread having a colonoscopy? Well then here’s some good news for you. A new study suggests having the procedure done just once in a lifetime may be enough for most people.
In the study, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, researcher Amy Knudsen of Massachusetts General Hospital used a computer model involving virtual “patients”, to evaluate various colon cancer detection strategies. The current guidelines assume people will just use one screening method their whole lives — so people who get a colonoscopy at age 50 are told to come back again every 10 years. But people who have a clean first colonoscopy are at lower risk of developing colon cancer, and Knudsen found they could switch to other screening methods — CT scans every five years or yearly stool testing — without an increased risk of death.
ACSH’s Dr. Elizabeth Whelan says, “It’s kind of an amazing observation, but I don’t know if everyone will accept that. I’m not talking about the science, but their emotional reaction to not getting tested — people like getting a clean bill of health,” she says. On the other hand, despite the science showing that lives can be saved by early detection with colonoscopies, some people will simply not go through with one.