Digestive Disorders / Gastroenterology Forum
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Rectal Bleeding in an 85 year old

  My mother is 85 years old. She had one incident of visible rectal bleeding a month ago and the doctor found occult blood also.  Colonoscopy was recommended and is scheduled for 2 weeks from now.  I am having second thoughts about letting her go through with it. She is increasingly frail and has a dementia.  Even the preparation for the procedure is likely to be traumatic, not to mention the procedure itself.  Is it really worth doing this?  Even if something serious is found, it might not make sense to do any major interventions.  Even if a polyp or two are found and removed, is the benefit likely to be worth the risks and disruption of the procedure and its preparation?  Any thoughts on this? Thanks.
Dear Bob,
There are 3 possible outcomes from the colonoscopy: 1) the colon is normal; 2) A benign polyp is found.  Since it takes many years for benign polyps to evolve into cancers, you must decide if making this diagnosis helps your mpther; 3) A colon cancer is found.  Unless you decide that you will do surgery to remove the cancer, there is no benefit to your mother in making the diagnosis.  As you think about your options, always ask yourself  whether there is any real benefit from doing the test.
This information is presented for educational purposes.  Always ask specific questions to your personal physician.
*keywords: colon polyp

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