Experts urge caution with colonoscopy referrals

FOBT is enough for those at average risk of bowel cancer

Too many people are having colonoscopies unnecessarily, putting more needy patients at risk due to delayed diagnosis.

This is the key finding from a new paper by University of Melbourne cancer researchers who argue that colonoscopies should be reserved for patients who have a family history of bowel cancer or symptoms suggestive of the disease.

For people with average risk of bowel cancer, the faecal occult blood test alone should be ample, they say.

Writing in the Australian Journal of General Practice, Professor Jon Emery and colleagues point out that there has been significant growth in demand for colonoscopies, due in part to to overscreening.

The authors point to previously published research that suggested for every one million Australians aged 50 and older, 80,000 people at average risk are overscreened with colonoscopy, and 29,000 people at increased risk are not having the