OK, this is your timely reminder.Do not delay that colonoscopy you’ve been putting off for months or years, a moment longer. Make an appointment today. I did, and it may have saved my life.
I know. You think it sounds disgusting and you’ve created a number of great rationalizations why you don’t really need one.
I had myself convinced too, until I got one, and the doctor found one of those dreaded pre-cancerous polyps. Sure the whole thing sounds nasty, but compared to what? Colon cancer?
I don’t think so!
Here’s the scoop: Colorectal cancer is the second most common cancer in the United States after lung cancer, striking 150,000 people annually, and causing over 50,000 deaths. That’s a staggering figure considering the disease is potentially curable if diagnosed in the early stages.
Although it can occur at any age, more than 90% of patients are over age 40, at which point the risk doubles every ten years to find colon cancer. Other than age, other high risk factors are family history and a personal history of ulcerative colitis, colon polyps or cancer of other organs, especially breast or uterus.
The most common symptoms are rectal bleeding and changes in bowel habits, such as constipation or diarrhea, but most polyps and early cancers produce no symptoms at all.
The procedure to check for changes in your colon wall is called a colonoscopy. This is the only way to make certain you have no growths inside your large intestine. If polyps are found, they are removed immediately and tested to find out if they are benign or malignant.
The worst part of a colonoscopy is the preparation, because your colon must be completely clean to view it properly. Preparation includes going on a clear liquid diet for 24 hours before the procedure, taking laxatives the night before and drinking an electrolyte solution which causes you to clear your intestines quickly and completely within a few hours.
For the actual procedure you can elect to have full anesthesia, which I highly recommend. Afterwards, you will see photos of your colon immediately, including any polyps they may have removed. There is little to no discomfort during this 20-minute procedure, and it can easily save your life.
So just go ahead and make that appointment. Call up a friend or family member. Take turns giving each other rides home from the procedure.
Do whatever you can to support those you love through this scary experience the first time. After that there will be no fear, because you will all know how easy it is to take care of your colon health while possibly saving your life!