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Colorectal Diseases

Might I have a valid reason to get screened?

03/10/2009

Question:

I have been trying to decide if I need to get a colonoscopy or if I am just being obsessive....I`m 52 and have had a recent onset (several months) of abdominal pain, alternating constipation then diarrhea (quite severe) and less frequent bloody (black) stools combined with 50 lb weight loss (I needed to lose weight, but it`s not intentional). I actually got my first physical exam in years and the doc didn`t seem to think that screening was necessary since I didn`t have a definate family history. Actually, my dad died from metastatic cancer at age 49 and I`m pretty sure that he ha colon cancer also (no medical records from so long ago). Given this uncertianty, I was considering just getting a colonoscopy anyway; especially when the endo center that does them (I was the driver for a neighbor nurse who got one) said that I could just schedule on on my own..My insurance company does not require a referral, and I`m seriously thinking of just getting a colonoscopy. I have tried to read as much as I can about this test and really don`t see a downside. I know that you can recommend specifics, but in general, would I be crazy just to get screened on my own? My neighbor who got one is a nurse advised me to get one, my wife (her gandmother died of colon cancer) thinks I`m a little crazy. Any opinion would be a big help. Thanks.

Answer:

The current recommendations are that Americans have a screening exam at age 50. You appear to be 2 years overdue. You should consider a colonoscopy to diagnose the cause of your symptoms.

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Response by:

Janice Frederick Rafferty, MD Janice Frederick Rafferty, MD
Professor of Surgery
Chief of Colorectal Surgery Division
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati