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While the idea of a speedy colonoscopy might sound appealing—get in, get out, get lunch!—a recent study shows  a longer-than-average colonoscopy and withdrawal time could help you determine the quality of your screening. 

The good news is we’re not talking about hours here—as little as two extra minutes of scoping around could make a difference.

The findings suggest that the longer your screening takes, the less likely you are to develop colon cancer. These results support current suggested guidelines for how long colonoscopies should last, which is a normal withdrawal time of at least six minutes. This gives your doctor enough time to inspect the colon for polyps.

The researchers reviewed almost 77,000 colonoscopies performed over the past six years by 51 different doctors at a large Minnesota practice. They found that withdrawal times lasted an average of nine minutes. However, about 10 percent of doctors had individual averages of less than six minutes. Patients who had colonoscopies performed by these doctors were twice as likely to develop colon cancer as those who had longer screenings. The findings also showed that a colonoscopy lasting longer than eight minutes didn’t seem to provide extra protection against developing colon cancer. 

“Studies of ‘quality’ colonoscopies have uncovered three main factors associated with a higher yield of finding lesions: colon cleansing preparation, adenoma detection rate and colonoscopy withdrawal time,” Dr. Michael D. Kreines, gastroenterologist at the Ohio Gastroenterology and Liver Institute and Chief, Gastroenterology Section, The Christ Hospital of Cincinnati said. “Many gastroenterologists now track their individual withdraw times, adenoma detection rates and quality of colon cleansing. The result has been a slower and more accurate colonoscopy. These efforts to make an excellent test even better are to be lauded and ultimately will save lives.”

This brings up the question: how long did your colonoscopy last? 

Don’t forget, the Colon Cancer Alliance serves as a source of information about colon health. If you have additional questions about colon cancer screening or are in need of support, please contact our free Helpline at (877) 422-2030. 


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