In the big picture of life, the 24 hours it takes to prepare for a colonoscopy is a blip on the radar screen. So why do so many people avoid colonoscopies? Well, it could be the fear of the unknown (do I have cancer, what’s the procedure like?) or the special beverage you need to drink to prepare for the procedure.
Colorectal cancer (cancer of the rectum and colon) is preventable, but not enough people are being screened for the disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, if everyone age 50 and older committed to regular colorectal screenings, nearly 60% of deaths from colon or rectal cancer could be avoided.
During a colonoscopy, the physician views the entire colon and removes any precancerous polyps before they turn into cancer. And because colon cancer develops slowly, often without symptoms, regular screenings can find cancer early when treatment works best.
Your chances of developing colorectal cancer increase with age. That’s why physicians recommend a colorectal screening starting at age 50. But a father, mother, brother, or sister with colon cancer means that you probably need to be screened sooner.
March is colorectal cancer month. If you’re 50 or older, talk to your primary care physician about a colonoscopy, and get it on the calendar. Sure, you’ll need to drink the special beverage and stick to an all-fluids diet 24 hours before the procedure. But that’s the hardest part. A colonoscopy is painless because you’re under light sedation, and the procedure is over in less than one hour. You see, it’s just a blip on the radar screen—and with colorectal cancer, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
By Anne Gill