Michael Biederman, D.O. is director
of the Gastroenterology Fellowship
at Botsford Hospital.
About to turn the big 5-0? Schedule a colonoscopy. “It’s a gift you can give yourself,” says Michael Biederman, D.O., director of the Gastroenterology Fellowship at Botsford Hospital. Dr. Biederman is so adamant about the lifesaving screening test that he has it done on his actual birthday so he doesn’t forget. “I’m busy and tend to put things off like everybody else,” he says.
A colonoscopy allows a doctor to examine the colon and rectum for polyps and cancer. Polyps or other growths, which may turn into cancer, can be removed during the procedure. A new study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that removing noncancerous polyps during colonoscopies resulted in 53 percent fewer deaths.
Schedule you your first colonoscopy at age 50 if you're Caucasian or Asian and don't have a family history of colon cancer; age 45 for African-Americans. Anyone with a parent or sibling with colon cancer should have the test 10 years before that diagnosis. If your father was diagnosed with colon cancer at age 53, for example, get your first colonoscopy at age 43. If there are no polyps, you'll need to be retested in five or 10 years. "The time to catch colon cancer is when it's silent, when you're feeling fine," Dr. Biederman says.