Schedule that follow-up colonoscopy

young doctor with patient If you’ve received an abnormal stool test result, it’s important to have a follow-up colonoscopy. But what if you aren’t able to schedule the procedure right away? As long as you don’t postpone it 10 months or more, say researchers, you likely won’t be putting yourself at an increased risk for developing colorectal cancer.

Scientists followed the cases of more than 70,000 adults, ages 50 to 70, who had a positive fecal immunochemical test (FIT). They found no significant increase in the risk of colorectal cancer or advanced-stage disease if patients had a colonoscopy within 10 months, compared with those who had the procedure within one month.

Those who waited longer than 10 months to have a colonoscopy were at greater risk of colorectal cancer — and they were more likely to be diagnosed with advanced-stage disease. However, researchers said more research is needed to establish a cause and effect relationship.

Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer diagnosed in both men and women in the U.S. The American Cancer Society recommends that everyone at average risk should start testing at age 50. Speak with your health care provider about which test is best for you, when you should start testing and how often you should be tested.