Essential Health Tests for Women
In Your 50s: Colonoscopy
In Your 50s: Colonoscopy

Why you need it: Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in women. Yet, caught early, it is often curable. Colorectal cancer is more common in people older than 50, and risk increases with age.

What the test is like: You will be sedated enough to make you comfortable, but you’ll remain awake during the procedure. As you lie on your left side, the doctor will insert a narrow, flexible tube with a tiny camera on the end (called a colonoscope) into your rectum and gently move it up your lower digestive tract. The doctor will examine the lining of your bowels through the camera, and may take tissue samples or remove polyps (growths) for further examination.

When to start: Colonoscopy is recommended for healthy women every 10 years, starting at age 50. Women with a family history of colon or rectal cancer should get their first screening 10 years earlier than when the relative was diagnosed.

┬ę Medioimages/Photodisc/Photodisc/Thinkstock
Reviewed by Elaine Brown, MD on November 26, 2013
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