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Colorectal Diseases

Colonoscopy repeat schedule

11/16/2009

Question:

Had a colonoscopy 10 years ago, where one small polyp (size of little fingernail) was removed.

The interval for repeat colonoscopy under this scenario used to be 10 years, now it is 5-10, I think?

My question is this... I dislike the procedure so much that I obviously avoid it at all costs. Thinking of doing it soon, but can you tell me if it is likely (or not) that I would see any problems on a repeat if the exam 10 years ago was OK? How fast does a polyp or tumor grow, I thought they took years?

THANKS!

Answer:

The 10 year interval has been calculated by review of many studies, and examination of the natural history of the average polyp. Most polyps grow slowly, and take years to degenerate into cancer. Therefore a 10 year interval for colonoscopy should be acceptable in a person with no symptoms of a problem, and no family history of colorectal polyps or cancer. Not all polyps and cancers grow slowly, however, so if you are found to have multiple polyps or a single polyp with high risk features, a shorter interval may be recommended.

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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