Unless your doctor advises otherwise, you should start being screened for colorectal cancer when you turn 50. But if you live long enough, can you ever stop having a colonoscopy?
According to current guidelines, most people aged 76 to 85 can stop being screened for colorectal cancer. Those over 85 should stop.
Dr. John Swartzberg at the U.C. Berkeley Wellness Letter says as we get older the benefits of screening decline, while the risks go up.
"The prep is difficult as anybody who has gone through it knows and as we get a lot older the prep can be more difficult for people to handle," he said. "And the procedure itself carries a small but real risk of perforating your colon. So you have to weigh those things against any known benefit and we just don't have the data to suggest benefits as people get older."
Dr. Swartzberg says everybody age 50 to 75 should be screened for colorectal cancer – once every 10 years, unless polyps are found or you are high risk.