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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Lisa Aliferis

Lisa Aliferis is the founding editor of KQED's State of Health blog. Since 2011, she's been writing and editing stories for the site. Before taking up blogging, she toiled for many years (more than we can count) producing health stories for television, including Dateline NBC and San Francisco's CBS affiliate, KPIX-TV. She also wrote up a handy guide to the Affordable Care Act, especially for Californians. Her work has been honored for many awards. Most recently she was a finalist for "Best Topical Reporting" from the Online News Association. You can follow her on Twitter: @laliferis

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