10 things to know about colonoscopy for 2021

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While recent data from the CDC has shown more adults being screened for colorectal cancer, the number may drop as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. However, an increase in telemedicine could change that. Artificial intelligence is also becoming more present in the gastrointestinal field and could change how colonoscopies are performed.

Here are 10 thing to know about colonoscopy in 2021:

1. According to the CDC, the number of adults being screened for colorectal cancer is increasing. In 2018, the percentage of adults ages 50-75 who were up to date with colorectal cancer screening tests increased by 1.4 percent, making the total percentage 68.8 percent.


2. Although the American Cancer Society recommends that stool tests be repeated annually and that positive tests be followed up with a colonoscopy, these recommendations have been found to be not followed. This is especially true in settings with low resources where stool tests are more common.


3. The rate of colorectal cancer for people under 50 years old has doubled since the 1990s, leading the American Cancer Society to recommend regular screenings begin at age 45 instead of 50, and that any non-colonoscopy tests with abnormal results be followed up with a colonoscopy.


4. The San Francisco Health Network projected at the end of 2020 that limited procedures and continued social distancing due to the COVID-19 pandemic may lead to more missed diagnoses and increased mortality. The health network saw a decline in testing between February and May 2020, with colonoscopies specifically declining by approximately 90 percent. To improve these numbers, SFHN suggested an increased use of telehealth and at-home fecal immunochemical tests.


5. A study released in June 2020 found patients over the age of 75 were more likely to develop complications within 30 days after receiving an outpatient colonoscopy, even more so if the patients had baseline comorbidities.


6. Physicians may have increased access to use of artificial intelligence to conduct colonoscopies with advanced technologies.


7. Two gastroenterologists told Becker's ASC Review their biggest concerns in gastroenterology are a misunderstanding of Cologuard, how reduced reimbursements will affect practitioners, and the increased need for telemedicine.


8. Colonoscopy was one of the top 10 procedures performed in ASCs between 2014 and 2019, according to a March report by the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission.


9. The American College of Gastroenterology introduced multiple recommendations regarding colonoscopies. You can view the full list of recommendations here.


10. Different colonoscopy procedures can cost up to $289 at ASCs and up to $537 at hospital outpatient departments, according to a CMS procedure price lookup tool.

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