Colonoscopies and Colon Cancer

Colonoscopies and Colon Cancer – Dr. Tilman

It used to be that we would say at age 50, everybody should get a screening colonoscopy; but today, 45 is the new 50, and we’ve started using that number as the day that you should have your first colonoscopy. If you’re clean and clear with no polyps and no cancers found, you wait 10 years to have it again; if you have a polyp then we might say 3 to 5, and if we find cancer in the colon we might say even more frequently than that for your follow up colonoscopy. Now if you have a family history of either someone who’s a closer relative– like if you have a sibling that has colon cancer– and they had it at a very young age, we would probably do that colonoscopy 5 years younger than the age that they had it. So if they had theirs at age 45, we would probably do yours as a sibling at the age of 40. But the point is that screening colonoscopy works. It prevents death from colon cancer; that is very common. It’s not like we are looking for a rare tumor. The other thing that you need to point out about screening colonoscopy is this: the American Cancer Society used to have a poster and it said

“The following are the symptoms of colon cancer…” and the poster was blank, because you can’t say “Oh, I’ll have a colonoscopy when I have problems with my bowel movements or I see blood”; that’s not how it works. We find colon cancer frequently. I was doing scopes this morning and I found a brand new colon cancer this morning. So we see them commonly. We see polyps and we remove them. In my career, I have removed thousands of polyps and I have done over 150,000 colonoscopies over my 40 years. One of my proudest accomplishments that I want them to put on my gravestone is “He saved lives by preventing colon cancer”. Because it is a hallmark, I think; one of the values of me as an individual and a physician to have done that. I come once a week and it’s huge. We have huge numbers of people in the clinic. We do a huge number of scopes and it’s done top of the line. This is as good as any place I have ever worked and I have worked in probably 30 hospitals doing endoscopy over the years and Hardtner is as good as it gets.