I get one every three years now and just got back from the latest, which means that you get a reminder too. Because first of all, colon cancer kills many, and colonoscopy really fucking works. And it’s not that much of a hassle. So if you’ve got any of the risk factors (over fifty? eat red meat? couch potato? alcohol?) go talk to your doctor already. Be good about this or next time I’ll run the screen-grab they gave me of my wholesome pink innards, and you just know you won’t be able to avoid looking.


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From: John (Dec 11 2009, at 16:35)

Not everyone lives in a country with universal health care, or can afford health insurance, much less the cost of visiting a doctor without such coverage.

Yea for capitalism. :/


From: John Cowan (Dec 11 2009, at 16:42)

What's more, when you come out of the short-term anaesthetic they use during the procedure, you feel more rested than you have any time in the last ten years or more. I told the anaesthesiologist he should make house calls.


From: Peter Hornby (Dec 11 2009, at 16:52)

Totally concur. And, if you're prone to heartburn or acid reflux, you might as well get the endoscopy done while you're at it.

I had what they call "conscious sedation", although there wasn't much "conscious" about it for me - I was out like a light for the whole process.



From: Eric Meyer (Dec 11 2009, at 17:48)

I have to admit, Tim, that you're just about the last person I would've expected to threaten the world with a goatse. I am amused.


From: Dave Pawson (Dec 12 2009, at 01:41)

Agree about showing the image round Tim. I found it fascinating and was surprised others didn't!

Possible difference, mine shows a medium level of ulcerative colitis.



From: Joseph Anthony Pasquale Holsten (Dec 12 2009, at 19:40)

If you're at risk, I wholeheartedly encourage your support of colonoscopies. But if you aren't, please don't waste your money or the money of those providing your healthcare. Group policies and government healthcare don't make diagnostics free, even if the costs are hidden. As with any medical procedure, there are real risks to colonoscopies too. Not everyone needs one. Early twenties? Vegan? Straight edge? You might be fine without one. Talk to your doctor.

And if you're a sedentary, overweight smoker (like me), then you should definitely work on those things.


From: Eddie (Dec 13 2009, at 05:33)

tim, you're an expert in computing technology not medicine. a colonoscopy every three years may or may not be advisable for everyone. i don't buy your reasons why ("over fifty", "couch potato", "red meat", "alcohol"). seriously, how you know what the criteria should be? for example, someone with high risk (family history) of carrying oncogenes should be tested at a younger age most likely (and in that case red meat, etc. may not make one iota of difference). what do you know about oncology such as oncogenese < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oncogene >? no personal offense intended, I know you mean well, but it always concerns me when I see people who are very smart in one space (such as information technology) discussing things in different spaces (such as cancer or heck even global climate change!). please be very careful about saying things you may not know much about. drawing from your personal experiences and turning that into a general rule set to apply to most / all people is an induction error (same error class as that of the Black Swan).


From: Robert Young (Dec 13 2009, at 08:20)

Frequency, according to my doctor anyway, is determined by findings. They found no polyps in me, so 10 years. They find polyps, remove them. Test them. Depending on the tests, 3 or 5 or 1 or some other number.

Start age? That's determined by your condition. Fat, smoker... 40-ish. Skinny, no smoke, no booze... 50-ish.


From: Jeremy (Dec 13 2009, at 08:44)

You forgot one of the great pleasures of a colonoscopy, and that is the truly awesome farting that takes place as you come round.


From: Mike (Dec 13 2009, at 18:22)

Every three years seems a little often. Five or 7 seems more like it, if there is no evidence of bleeding. Here in Japan they screen everyone with annual fecal blood testing and do colonoscopies less frequently.

There is a small but very real risk of contracting hepatitis and other serious infections from colonoscopies. Here, where hepatitis is rather common, they usually require a blood test before a colonoscopy, and they schedule all the positives in the afternoon. They run the cleaning cycle for 20 minutes normally, but 60 minutes after the hepatitis cases are done. Still, that doesn't eliminate the risk.

In the U.S. (and Canada), "doing something" always trumps leaving things alone, even if there is scientific evidence that leaving stuff alone results in less harm. The recent breast cancer hullabaloo showed that. The reasoning behind having fewer mammograms is rather complex and doesn't lend itself to headlines. Yes, there are women who would die with fewer mammograms, but there are more, but different, women who would live who otherwise would have died.


From: Derek K. Miller (Dec 14 2009, at 11:41)

I'd say it's pretty simple: ask your doctor if you should get one.

Of course, mine would have said no, until I started showing symptoms, and then we found advanced colon cancer, and it's been a rollercoaster of surgery and radiation and chemo and other hell in the ensuing three years. But I'm an outlier: I was 37, with no family history or risk factors, but I got it anyway.

Now my kids and parents and other relatives are on the hook for regular scopes starting at much younger ages than would be typical. I think the general recommendation is that you should have them regularly (whatever that means) if you're over 50 and otherwise not in a risk group.


From: Doug (Dec 22 2009, at 15:49)

Hey when I hit 50 several years ago my doc recommended I get a roto rooter job. Just an outpatient kinda thing. I spent the next month trying to get rid of the staph infection from the bad hospital type resistant staph. What a great way to start mid life...


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