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I have just paid £1,630 to save my neighbours money.

Let's dial back to when I last visited my local NHS clinic to address a list of concerns, which I whizzed through as efficiently as possible in the ten minutes allotted to the consultation. With palpable relish, the GP informed me that the NHS would do absolutely nothing about every issue I raised.  Like most Britons who earn a living, I pay thousands of pounds annually for this service, whose lack of interest in remedying any of my problems provided this doctor a vicious, vengeful joy.

Lastly, I rounded on my leading concern: I was well past 50, the age all adults are         advised to get a first colonoscopy. As if hosting Who Wants to be a Millionaire?  when she knew the contestant was about to lose five hundred grand, the doctor asked: had any of my immediate relatives had colon cancer?  And mere grandparents didn't cut it.

"No," I said, "but my younger brother had polyps, and I gather these potentially pre-cancerous growths are heavily genetic."

"Polyps don't count," she said primly.

"But with a direct sibling who's had polyps before the age of 45, my chances of also having polyps are two and a half times that of the general population."

She looked bored.

I could have a colonoscopy if I were bleeding from the bum — in which case I already had cancer, and you could hardly call the screening "preventative". Alternatively, if I'd had polyps before.

"But how do you know if you have polyps," I puzzled, "without getting a colonoscopy?"

She beamed beatifically. Joseph Heller would have been proud of this catch.

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Ron Graves
May 2nd, 2014
9:05 AM
Having had one colonoscopy (virtual, CT-assisted), I will never willingly have another. It was a complete shambles from beginning to end, as detailed here

April 23rd, 2012
1:04 PM
Unfortunately the risk benefit balance is difficult - 1 in 200 patients undergoing colonoscopy suffer serious complications (including death). 1250 patients have to be investigated to prevent 1 cancer. Your GP's cautious approach seems very reasonable.

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