Study confirms 10-year interval for colonoscopy tests is optimal

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A new study suggests that individuals who have gotten negative colonoscopy results have a decreased chance of developing the disease for up to 10 years following the exam, according to the results of a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Cure rates for colorectal cancer – including the colon – are high when the disease is detected and treated early. Currently it is recommended that people 50 years of age or older and those at high risk for colorectal cancer undergo screening. Colorectal cancer screening can detect cancer at an early stage, and also can prevent cancer by allowing physicians to detect and remove precancerous polyps.

For patients undergoing screening colonoscopy, a 10-year interval between screenings is generally recommended, and this new study supports this claim.

For the study, researchers in Canada investigated 35,975 individuals who had a negative screening colonoscopy between 1989 and 2003. The risk of colorectal cancer in patients with a negative screening colonoscopy was compared to the risk of colorectal cancer in the general population. Compared to the general population, the risk of colorectal cancer in individuals with a negative screening colonoscopy was 35 percent lower at one year after the colonoscopy, 45 percent lower at five years after the colonoscopy, and roughly 70 percent lower at 10 years after the colonoscopy, according to a release of the study’s findings.

“The risk of developing colorectal cancer remains decreased for more than 10 years following the performance of a negative colonoscopy,” the researchers wrote.