Ask a friend or family member – getting a colonoscopy isn’t exactly the most popular pastime. 

Given that colon cancer is actually a fairly preventable disease, however, scheduling a regular colonoscopy is pretty important for patients. This begs the question, when do I get a colonoscopy? 

A colonoscopy is the gold standard for detection and prevention of colorectal cancer. While everyone dreads the notorious bowel-prep, both the prep and procedure are usually very well-tolerated. I would encourage any skeptical patient to remember that the potential benefits of the procedure can be life-changing for both you and your family. 

Daniel Leberer, MD

Colorectal Surgeon, Buffalo Medical Group

The general rule for a person at average risk for colon cancer is to start getting colonoscopies at age 50. If you’re in the clear, you should only expect to return for a colon cancer screening once every 10 years. 

The rules are slightly different for those who have a family risk of colon cancer. This means that you have a family member who was diagnosed with colon cancer before the age of 60. If you do have a higher risk for colon cancer, doctors recommend that routine colonoscopies start either when you’re 40 or 10 years earlier than the age your family member was diagnosed at – whichever comes first. 

Why Does Everyone Dread Their Colonoscopy? 

A colonoscopy is an examination of a patient’s colon and rectum to detect any growths or abnormalities that could be cancerous. 

In order to have a successful exam, your colon has to be cleaned out. Most people refer to this part of the process as “prep” and it’s where the bad reputation stems from. 

If anything, preparing for a colonoscopy may be slightly unpleasant. Your doctor’s office will provide you with specific guidelines to follow, and should be readily available to answer any of your questions leading up to the test. Most doctors request that you refrain from eating any solid foods the day before the test, and also have you ingest a solution that helps to clear your bowel. Safe to say, you’ll be spending more time than usual near the bathroom. 

Make sure to enlist a friend or family member to be your designated driver following a colonoscopy. You’ll be partially sedated – which makes the procedure itself a whole lot easier – but also means you won’t be in any condition to operate a motor vehicle. 

Find a Gastroenterologist Near You
Call (716) 706-2112

Find a Gastroenterologist Near You
Call (716) 706-2112