Question: How often should I get a colonoscopy?
Some friends with Crohn's have them done often whereas others never seem to have them done.
There are three reasons why a colonoscopy is important for a patient with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis:
1. If you’re experiencing symptoms related to Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, sometimes that’s reason enough for a colonoscopy. Understanding where the inflammation is and how severe the inflammation is are two very important details that a physician needs to know in order to recommend the best treatment option for you.
2. Another reason why a colonoscopy may be suggested is to determine how well a certain therapy has worked for you. Understanding the amount of inflammation that exists while on therapy or after a given therapy will help determine whether the therapy was successful in doing what it was intended to do.
3. Finally, after approximately a decade of having inflammation in the colon, there is an increased risk of colon cancer. (Although it’s important to understand Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis-related inflammation is only one factor that may be considered in determining colon cancer risk).
While there are numerous factors that go into deciding how frequently one should get colonoscopies, it’s widely accepted that periodic colonoscopies – to look for pre-cancerous growths or abnormalities in the lining of the bowel – are recommended to prevent cancer in patients with long-standing ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease involving their colon.