How Soon Should I Have a Followup Colonoscopy?

  • Medical Author:
    Dennis Lee, MD

    Dr. Lee was born in Shanghai, China, and received his college and medical training in the United States. He is fluent in English and three Chinese dialects. He graduated with chemistry departmental honors from Harvey Mudd College. He was appointed president of AOA society at UCLA School of Medicine. He underwent internal medicine residency and gastroenterology fellowship training at Cedars Sinai Medical Center.

  • Medical Editor: Jay W. Marks, MD
    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD, is a board-certified internist and gastroenterologist. He graduated from Yale University School of Medicine and trained in internal medicine and gastroenterology at UCLA/Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

Ask the experts

I just had a colonoscopy and they found two non-cancerous colon polyps and one non-cancerous lipoma (no previous polyps prior), when should I have my next colonoscopy?

Doctor's response

Lipomas (benign tumors consisting of fat) are benign, that is, they are not cancerous. If the pathologist (the doctor who examines the polyp) is confident that the polyp is a lipoma, no further tests or surveillance will be necessary.

When to perform the next colonoscopy after removal of two non-cancerous, non-lipomatous polyps depends on several issues:

  1. The size of the polyps.
  2. The completeness of the excision.
  3. The histology of the polyps as well as the degree of atypia in the cells that make up the polyps. (Histology refers to the types of cells that make up the polyps as seen under the microscope. Atypia is a term pathologists use to describe cells that appear to be in the process of turning cancerous.)
  4. The quality of the colon preparation and visualization.
  5. The family history of colon cancer.

For example, if one or both polyps were large and not completely excised, your doctor may ask you to have repeat colonoscopy within weeks to months. On the other hand, if the polyps were small (less than 1 cm), completely excised, and did not have significant atypia, the doctor may ask you to have surveillance colonoscopy in five years.

If the colon preparation was poor and there was too much residual stool in the colon for good visualization, the doctor may ask you to have a repeat colonoscopy to make sure there are no more polyps.

Medically reviewed by Venkatachala Mohan, MD; Board Certified Internal Medicine with subspecialty in Gastroenterology


"Overview of colonoscopy in adults"

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Reviewed on 7/5/2017