The Cancer-Detecting Exam You Should Never Have After Noon

Perfect timing is everything!


In the United States, colorectal cancer ranks third for both the leading cause of cancer-related deaths and the most common cancer for men and women. Fortunately, the number of deaths from colorectal cancer has decreased largely due to handy cancer-screening tools like colonoscopies, which can detect polyps (small growths on the colon) before they turn into cancer.

Colonoscopies are a great way to be proactive about your colon health, but you may be surprised to learn that your appointment time may play an influential role in the accuracy and quality of your screening. Studies have shown that mornings are better than afternoons for colonoscopies. In an analysis of more than 1,000 colonoscopies, researchers from the Washington University School of Medicine in Missouri found that endoscopists were less likely to find polyps as the day progressed. There was a nearly 5 percent reduction in polyp detection with every passing hour. Despite the lack of differences between morning and afternoon patients, doctors were able to find an average of more than 1.1 polyps in every exam at 11 a.m compare to 2 p.m. when they were detecting barely half that number. Another study showed that doctors were also less likely to fully complete colonoscopies scheduled in the afternoon versus the morning. Find out the silent signs of colon cancer you might be missing.

The researchers believe that fatigue from the hustle and bustle of a doctor’s workday may be to blame for this stark difference in the quality of colonoscopies between the morning and afternoon. In fact, a British survey from 2013 found that 2:55 p.m. was the most unproductive time of the day for the average worker.

The next time your doctor recommends a colonoscopy for you, ask if they can schedule you for the morning to ensure that you’re getting the best care possible. Next, don’t miss these tips for preventing colon cancer that healthy adults should start now.

[Source: WHEN: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing by Daniel H. Pink]

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Ashley Lewis
Ashley Lewis received her Master’s Degree from CUNY Graduate School of Journalism in 2015. She was a Jason Sheftell Fellow at the New York Daily News. and interned at Seventeen and FOX News before joining Reader’s Digest as an assistant editor. When Ashley is not diligently fact-checking the magazine or writing for, she enjoys cooking (butternut squash pizza is her signature dish), binge-watching teen rom-coms on Netflix that she’s way too old for, and hiking (and falling down) mountains.