Let’s face it, a colonoscopy is not a test that anyone looks forward to.
You know it’s important…your doctor says so…so you go. But to be honest, you’d rather be doing almost anything else.
Well, to add insult to injury, a team of researchers from the University of Texas (U of T) is now saying that you may have been subjected to a colonoscopy when you didn’t even need one.
Let me explain.
Colonoscopy over screening is on the rise
The clinical guidelines for colonoscopies say that after a patient has had an original screening he should not have another one for 10 years unless signs of cancer were found during that first test.
However, when the U of T scientists followed a group of 24,071 Medicare patients, all of whom had received their initial colonoscopies showing no signs of cancer, they found that second tests were being performed much sooner than needed.
Close to a quarter of the patients—23.5 percent of the group—had received a second screening within seven years. And the numbers get even worse if you’re older, with 45.6% of the patients between 75 and 79 years old getting second screenings earlier than needed.
The study, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, concluded that the needless tests are not only costing extra money but also tying up valuable limited equipment, preventing patients that really should be getting screenings from getting them.
And, of course, they’re also putting the victims of the extra screenings at an unacceptably higher risk of experiencing complications from the procedures.
Burdens outweigh benefits
No one would argue against colonoscopies being an important cancer-screening tool, but their overuse can be more of a burden than a benefit.
If your doctor is sending you for a follow-up colonoscopy within less than 10 years of your initial negative screening don’t be afraid to ask why. He should have a good reason for putting you through the procedure again so soon.
And if you’re going in for your first screening don’t forget to keep track of the date, so you can prevent yourself from becoming the next victim of premature screening.
Remember, poisons and medicine are often the same substances given with different intentions.