Quick Read: Colonoscopy May Be Overused in Older Adults, Study Finds

It may be Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, but that doesn’t mean everyone should run out and get a colonoscopy. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends against screening for colorectal cancer for people older than 75. (People 76-85 may consider it on an individual basis.) That’s because colon cancer is slow growing, more than 10 years in many cases, but the risks of a colonoscopy — internal tears, bleeding and hospitalization — become a greater concern as a patient ages.


Older U.S. adults may get too many colonoscopies, costing Medicare money and putting patients at an increased risk of side effects including bleeding and hospitalization, researchers found. About one-quarter of colonoscopies in Medicare recipients ages 70 and older may be inappropriate based on screening guidelines, according to a study released today by JAMA Internal Medicine, which analyzed insurance claims data.

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