Monday, December 22, 2008

If it's time for a colonoscopy, get a specialist

An experienced hand will be better at spotting tumors. Also, the test's accuracy may not be as high as once thought so carefully consider all options. Nearly 70% of the colonoscopies in the new study were performed by general surgeons, internists and family practitioners -- not all of whom were likely to have had much experience. Physicians who specialize in colonoscopies tend to be more adept at spotting tumors.

One lesson of the study may be that "patients should seek out board-certified gastroenterologists to do their examinations," says Dr. Jacques Van Dam, director of endoscopy at Stanford University Medical Center. It's generally recommended that everyone should have a colonoscopy at age 50 and every 10 years from then on. More frequent colonoscopies are recommended for people at high risk -- including those with a family history of colorectal cancer, those who have had colorectal cancer previously and those with a predisposing condition such as inflammatory bowel disease.
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