Learn why getting a colonoscopy is so important and possibly lifesaving. We’ll outline why you need a colonoscopy, when you should get one and what to expect during the test.
“A colonoscopy is the gold standard for detection and prevention of colorectal cancer. While everyone dreads the notorious bowel-prep, both the prep and procedure are usually very well-tolerated. I would encourage any skeptical patient to remember that the potential benefits of the procedure can be life-changing for both you and your family.”Dr. Daniel Leberer
Colonoscopies are the best way to detect colorectal cancer. And even if you’re a woman, you need one. Although some people think of colorectal cancer as a men’s disease, women are just as much at risk. A colonoscopy can reduce your risk by up to 60%.
When found early, colorectal cancer is easily treated and can often be cured. The screening test also helps detect pre-cancerous polyps before they turn into cancer. If polyps are found during a colonoscopy, they can usually be removed at that time.
When should you get a colonoscopy?
- The American Cancer Society recommends you start screenings at age 50 if you have no specific risk factors. Repeat every 10 years, or more often if recommended by your doctor.
- If your parent or sibling had colon cancer before age 60, begin screenings 10 years earlier than the age your family member was when diagnosed or at age 40, whichever is younger.
- African-Americans have a higher risk of colon cancer and should begin screenings at age 45.
What to expect when you get a colonoscopy?
- You’ll have to clean out your colon first. Most people consider this the worst part of the test. Your doctor will give you instructions on how to prep for the procedure. While you’re doing it, you’ll need to stay pretty close to a bathroom.
- Right before your colonoscopy, you will usually be given a sedative through an IV. It will make you sleepy and most people don’t feel or remember anything about the test.
- You will need to have someone drive you home because you may still feel some effects from the sedative for a few hours. Otherwise, slight bloating, cramping and gas are usually the only post-procedure effects.
Some people avoid having a colonoscopy because they’re scared, but colon screenings aren’t so bad. They’re usually painless, and although they can have some unpleasant side effects when you’re preparing for the test, that all goes away pretty quickly. Having to deal with cancer is a whole lot worse than going through a relatively simple procedure to help prevent the disease.
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