Over 50? Stop stalling and get that colonoscopy


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Mighty Hiker

Vancouver, B.C.
Jul 31, 2010 - 02:48am PT
There was a note about this in the NYT the other day, about the percentage of Americans who get screening colonoscopies, and who.

Fritz' experience was interesting. In BC, the way it works right now is that if you are in a higher-risk group, you get sent for a screening colonscopy every ten years. Higher-risk = heredity, personal medical history, etc. If you're in the 'average' group, then if you want one, you have to pay for it yourself. I had one a few years ago, and it cost about $1,000. My MD said it was a good idea, said I wasn't in a higher-risk group, and off I went. It's not a 'real' surgical procedure, so was at the doctor's office/clinic, as with many relatively minor things.

The debate here now is whether MSP (our single-payer system) should cover screening colonoscopies for everyone every ten years from age 50. The economic studies indicate it would be an effective investment, so it seems likely it will happen.
Karl Baba

Trad climber
Yosemite, Ca
Jul 31, 2010 - 02:52am PT
Nice contribution Fritz

I think it's criminal that the medical establishment won't quote prices, especially when prices are high. You can bet they buy nothing for themselves without knowing the price in advance.

And with medical expenses being the prime driver of a majority of bankruptcies, reform is badly needed.

Getting up the backside is bad enough without getting up the backside when the bill comes



Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Jul 31, 2010 - 11:23am PT
the utility of PSA testing is very much debatable and a reflection of the fact that the vast majority of prostate cancers are very slowly growing and unlikely to cause death. in the largest trials to date its been shown that a huge number of patients need to be treated (with resulting incontinence, impotence, etc) in order to extend the life of one person.

from the new england journal of medicine, summarizing the largest trial to date: "This means that 1410 men would need to be screened and 48 additional cases of prostate cancer would need to be treated to prevent one death from prostate cancer....PSA-based screening reduced the rate of death from prostate cancer by 20% but was associated with a high risk of overdiagnosis."

the data on mammograms is also mixed, with recommendations moving back the recommended age to start screening. this is also a reflection of the fact that mammograms were picking up too many benign lesions resulting in unnecessary surgeries.

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Jul 31, 2010 - 11:31am PT
People who want a colonoscopy and vacation package might consider Chile. Medical care in Santiago is the best in Latin America. Procedures in Chile cost a fraction of what they are in the US. The savings in a colonoscopy would more than cover your plane costs to this beautiful country.

Trad climber
Douglas, WY
Jul 31, 2010 - 11:36am PT
The major advantage of the PSA testing is it is "non-invasive" and is usually accompanied by the classic "finger-up-the-bum" exam when the physician reviews the results with you. It's also a pretty inexpensive (as medical testing goes) procedure.

The mammogram is of more questionable utility, and depends on the trained eye of the radiologist.

Boulder climber
I'm James Brown, Bi-atch!
Jul 31, 2010 - 01:06pm PT
it was embare ass ing seeing one of my butt plugs show up on the video monitor,


Jul 31, 2010 - 01:52pm PT
"the utility of PSA testing is very much debatable and a reflection of the fact that the vast majority of prostate cancers are very slowly growing and unlikely to cause death. "

The debate over the statistics has been going on for some time and the major players in that debate all have vested interests. I have not seen the problem as viewed by the afflicted as widely published. Friends and relatives of mine have died of this and it is not a pleasant way to go.

1. The PSA is a simple blood test costing very little. I think urologists believe the test's precision is better than it really is but if you see consistent increases in the data the next step is indicated.

2. A biopsy is an office procedure. If successful a Gleason score can be determined. At that point the decision is in the hands of the person most directly affected.

A good place to start once you have a Gleason score:

Many major advances have been made since Andy's article in 1996. The Johns Hopkins procedure avoiding nerve loss during surgery is now generally available. The majority of the people I know have been electing radiation treatment.

Social climber
Aug 4, 2010 - 05:04pm PT
If my polyp biopsy results come back clean, I'll feel I have dodged a bullet that I caused by waiting so long to get the colonoscopy done.

Just got the call. Biopsy was clean. Yaahoo!

Now go out and get it done my friends.


Desolation Basin, Calif.
Aug 4, 2010 - 05:12pm PT
I had one done last year. As my girlfriend has always suspected, the pictures prove I'm the perfect as#@&%e.
Rick A

Boulder, Colorado
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 17, 2012 - 10:47am PT
Just had a checkup (my third colonoscopy) four years after my surgery. In the three years since my last one, I had grown more pre-cancerous polyps. However, they were found and removed early enough so that they should have zero impact on my health going forward. Will be doing this routine every three years from now on.

This underscores the importance of early detection. Had I waited another few years before getting the first colonoscopy it could have been dire, indeed.

So this is a gentle, but urgent, reminder to my friends "d'un certain age" still putting it off.

Just get it done; it might be one of the best things you ever do for yourself and your family.


Trad climber
The state of confusion
Mar 17, 2012 - 11:00am PT

Good to hear that news, Rick.
I'm getting my second one sometime this year. It's not the
procedure that's bad, it's the prep. Ugh!
Wade Icey

Trad climber
Mar 17, 2012 - 11:17am PT

Glad to hear everything is going well for you Rick A.
Rick A

Boulder, Colorado
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 17, 2012 - 11:41am PT
Wade-Sorry to hear that happened.

Here is a link with some information about applicable law and options.

Ian Gill

Big Wall climber
Redding, CA
Mar 17, 2012 - 12:40pm PT
Glad to hear you're doing well Rick.

Your message is SO important! I had my colonoscopy when I was 47, due to a steadily increasing amount of blood emanating from my southern region (as polite a way as I can put it)

Yeah - a tumor the size of a golf ball. Nothing will stop you dead in your tracks like a cell phone call at work from your doctor saying "Yes, you have cancer, and it appears to be somewhat advanced".

Turned out it had spread to some lymph nodes as well. 2 major abdominal surgeries later and long story short - I just passed my 5 year remission mark 3 months ago - I'm lucky to be here and it has changed my perspective on life (I've lost 3 other immediate family members to cancer in the last 6 years).

A colonoscopy is no big deal, folks - you don't even feel it. So my older brother (it's just him and me left) went and got his done, and sure enough, had a few pre-cancerous polyps removed. His health insurance was not affected though.

Godspeed to ya, Rick, you're gonna be alright! Attitude is everything!

Trad climber
Millbrae, CA
Mar 17, 2012 - 01:19pm PT
Bump for a vital message...
and best wishes to all of you who got scary news, but got it early.

One of my best friends kept putting his "after 50" colonoscopy off, and ignored symptoms until it was impossible to do so, and got the diagnosis of metastatic stage 4. He was dead within the year. We still miss him.

Mar 17, 2012 - 01:40pm PT
Credit: Jennie

Read the thread. You don't want this.

It is hell on wheels.

Trad climber
pacific beach, ca
Mar 17, 2012 - 01:58pm PT
have mine this thursday

31 years in Joshua Tree, now Alaska
Jul 6, 2012 - 02:27pm PT
I turned 55 in October and still had not had a colonoscopy, no insurance. I took a three month job with the school district here on the Kenai Peninsula and I had insurance with the job. Getting a colonoscopy was at the top of my list of things to do. It was scheduled for the 19th of June, my insurance was to end on the 30th. The exam got rescheduled to the 26th. As soon as I was able to understand what was happening in the recovery room my doctor told me I had a 12 centimeter mass in the lower colon and I would need a bowel resection to remove it. This was on a Tuesday, the surgery was scheduled for Friday. In between I had a CT scan and chest x-ray and a barrage of blood work completed. The CT scan did not show anything outside of the colon so I had a good attitude going into the surgery. The bowel resection went well, I had an epidural which stayed in place for three days. No pain at all. I was up and walking and feeling good in the hospital. I left the hospital on Tuesday, July 3rd to come home. The doctor said he had never sent anyone home with this surgery so early. I am feeling so good that I have to remind myself not to do everything that I would be doing regularly. Today I got the pathology report and it was a supersize polyp, no invasion of the colon wall, clean margins. I will not need any chemo or radiation. I just have to heal and have another colonoscopy in a year.
If I hadn't had the colonoscopy the doctor said I would have eventually had a bowel obstruction. I dodged a bullet this time.
Get your colonoscopy, it could save your life.
Rick A

Boulder, Colorado
Topic Author's Reply - Jul 6, 2012 - 04:11pm PT
Yikes Cyndie!
So glad you're going to be ok.

31 years in Joshua Tree, now Alaska
Jul 9, 2012 - 06:08pm PT
Bumping for the reminder to make your appointment for your colonoscopy.
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