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Old 12-18-2008, 01:28 PM
 
Location: Maryland Eastern Shore
782 posts, read 1,706,820 times
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My mother is a 30 year survivor of breast cancer. She is now 82. Three years ago they found polyps in a routine colonoscopy - they have suggested she make an appointment for a new test this year - only three years later.

Does anyone else think that this seems excessive for a woman her age?

She is overweight/diabetic but in otherwise good health (for her age). She is active and outgoing with lots of friends and activities. (Monday is canasta, Tuesday is shopping, Wednesday is the beauty parlor..........)

Is there a real medical need for her to undergo this procedure so soon?
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Old 12-18-2008, 01:41 PM
 
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I may be incorrect in this, but it's my understanding that a polyp in the colon will take 10-15 years to become a cancerous problem.

Therefore, the question is, should the elderly patient be put through that horrid prep for the test, or is it just better to wait and see hoping that something else will take the patient out sooner. There is also the real danger of accidently tearing the wall of the colon. That's really bad news!

On the other hand, maybe she has developed more polyps and there is that chance that her life could be extended even longer if they are found in time.
Either way, it's a difficult decision to make. I am glad that I don't have to make it.
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Old 12-18-2008, 01:42 PM
 
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I'm not a doc, so this is just a layman's opinion.

No, she doesn't need it. Unless there are symptoms noted.

When my own mother was about 86, in a nursing home, and beginning to fail quickly, it was suggested that she have a mammogram. Gimme a break, any woman with NO history of any cancer, and no symptoms of any sort, does not need a mammogram at age 86 when they are in their final, inevitable decline.

In your case, if there are no symptoms, I'd let your mom alone.
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Old 12-18-2008, 01:46 PM
 
Location: Maryland Eastern Shore
782 posts, read 1,706,820 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Padgett2 View Post
I may be incorrect in this, but it's my understanding that a polyp in the colon will take 10-15 years to become a cancerous problem.

Therefore, the question is, should the elderly patient be put through that horrid prep for the test, or is it just better to wait and see hoping that something else will take the patient out sooner. There is also the real danger of accidently tearing the wall of the colon. That's really bad news!

On the other hand, maybe she has developed more polyps and there is that chance that her life could be extended even longer if they are found in time.
Either way, it's a difficult decision to make. I am glad that I don't have to make it.
These are my thoughts exactly

Quote:
In your case, if there are no symptoms, I'd let your mom alone.
That is what I think.

Maybe I should speak with her doctor directly and ask what is their justification - other than collecting Medicare/Medicaid money
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Old 12-18-2008, 02:03 PM
 
Location: Plano, Texas
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Well, I understand what you are saying about her age and that certainly is something to consider. One thing, though, I might mention is that though it might take many years for most polyps to become cancerous, you can't be 100% certain that all polyps were detected at any given colonsopscopy. Apparently, finding them is not foolproof. Some doctors apparently are better at it than others and sometimes the bowel prep is not as good as it needed to be to detect them all. (I'm not a medical person but I have recently had a colonoscopy and I have since researched it pretty thoroughly.) So the way I see it, if they find that you are someone who has polyps, a second colonoscopy in a couple of years kinda gives additional insurance that everything was seen and taken care of as well as removing any new ones which may have developed. Am I making sense?

But again, given her age and the rigorous prep needed, it does make you question if she needs to be subjected to that. But these are some considerations to think about. Also, there might be easier ways to go even if you live to a ripe old age than developing colon cancer. Just my thoughts....

All that said, my own mother is 83, had a colonoscopy about 15 years ago with polyp removal and wants no part of having another one. At her age, I think that is her perogative and I'm not trying to insist that she submit to it.

Your statement about discussing it with her doctor I think is a good plan.

Last edited by kaykay; 12-18-2008 at 02:12 PM..
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Old 12-18-2008, 02:11 PM
 
Location: Maryland Eastern Shore
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kaykay View Post
So the way I see it, if they find that you are someone who has polyps, a second colonoscopy in a couple of years kinda gives additional insurance that everything was seen and taken care of. Am I making sense?

But again, given her age and the rigorous prep needed, it does make you question if she needs to be subjected to that.
I hear you on the first part - I worry that so if they find a polyp - and if it is non-symtomatic - will the "cure" do more harm than letting it go anyway?

I am sure we have all heard of the seemingly perfectly healthy elder people who go in a hospital for a "minor" procedure and either don't come out or start to deteriorate shortly after

Just as 90% of men who live to 90 will have prostate trouble - do we really believe a 90 year old requires a medical intervention (which could be too much of a shock to the system)
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Old 12-18-2008, 02:17 PM
 
Location: Plano, Texas
8,640 posts, read 14,775,749 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Grasonville View Post
I hear you on the first part - I worry that so if they find a polyp - and if it is non-symtomatic - will the "cure" do more harm than letting it go anyway?

I am sure we have all heard of the seemingly perfectly healthy elder people who go in a hospital for a "minor" procedure and either don't come out or start to deteriorate shortly after

Just as 90% of men who live to 90 will have prostate trouble - do we really believe a 90 year old requires a medical intervention (which could be too much of a shock to the system)
Yes, I think it's much more of an issue for a younger person to be sure. And I just added that my own elderly mother does not want to have a colonoscopy and I am not trying to force her to. (Her case is a little different because she was having some unidentified pain.) But still... since she is very much still mentally capable of making her own decisions, I consider that her call. (And the pain seems to have disappeared otherwise, I would probably be urging her to investigate...)

And to be sure, there are some risks to the procedure, (though pretty rare) and the prep is pretty harsh too. So I do see your objections here.... And 2 years does seem soon. On my recent colonoscopy, they did find and remove polyps, but even at that, they recommended repeating in 3 years, not 2. (But I have heard of 2 being recommended, even 1.) Again, I think the best step for you is just to discuss with her doctor and find out if he has some rationale for this which seems reasonable to you.

Last edited by kaykay; 12-18-2008 at 02:29 PM..
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Old 12-18-2008, 03:19 PM
 
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Actually, the standard interval for a patient who has had polyps in the past is three years between colonoscopies. The point is to snag the polyps before they undergo malignant transformation.
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Old 12-18-2008, 03:39 PM
 
Location: anywhere
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As others have said I think the prep is too much for someone that age. I am 37 and had one done a few months ago and the prep was just brutal. I couldn't imagine an elderly person going through that.
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Old 12-18-2008, 03:48 PM
 
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What does she think? I think if she's up for the test and knows what it's generally about, then it's her decision to make, but I, also, understand your concern for her going through it.
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