Colorectal cancer is a common and deadly disease. Every year in the United States, more than 140,000 people are diagnosed with colorectal cancer and approximately 50,000 people die from the disease. The risk of colorectal cancer increases with age, with 90% of colorectal cancers occurring after age 50. For this reason, colorectal cancer screening is recommended for everyone by age 50 – screening reduces the risk of colorectal cancer and saves lives. The providers at Northwest Endoscopy are dedicated to screening for colorectal cancer.
Our office allows healthy patients to directly self-refer for colon cancer screening via colonoscopy without a preceding office visit. The following conditions apply:
- You must be older than 16 years but younger than 80 years
- You must have stable health without serious medical issues
- You should have no significant gastrointestinal symptoms (e.g., rectal bleeding) or previously diagnosed colon disease (e.g., ulcerative colitis)
- Your weight must be between 75-400 pounds
- You must not be on blood-thinning medications (for example, warfarin/Coumadin, dabigastran/Pradaxa, clopidogrel/Plavix, dipyridamole/Persantine/Aggrenox), though you may self-refer if you are on aspirin
- You must not be on regular narcotic pain medications (such as codeine, hydrocodone, oxycodone, or morphine) or sedatives (like Ativan or Valium) that may make it difficult to sedate you for a colonoscopy
Self-referral for colonoscopy is appropriate for:
- Age-appropriate colon cancer screening (age 50 or older)
- Personal history of colon polyps
- Polyp found on flexible sigmoidoscopy (limited scope focused on the left side of the colon)
- Positive stool card testing for occult blood (hemoccult)
- Family history of close relative (parent, sibling, or child) with colon cancer
IF YOU HAVE A FAMILY HISTORY OF COLORECTAL CANCER: Expert guidelines generally recommend colon cancer screening beginning at age 50 if your close relative was older than 60 years at time of colon cancer diagnosis. If your close relative was younger than 60 years at the time of colon cancer diagnosis, you should be screened for colon cancer screening at either age 40 or 10 years prior to your close relative’s diagnosis, whichever comes sooner. For example, if your mother was diagnosed with colon cancer at age 46, you should have your first colonoscopy at age 36; if she was diagnosed at age 53, you should have your first colonoscopy at age 40.