Colonoscopy. If that word gives you a funny feeling in the pit of your stomach, you’re not alone. A feeling of dread for both the preparation and the procedure itself, causes many people to put off a colonoscopy.
In general, it’s recommended that anyone over the age of 50 should schedule their first colonoscopy. However, the age is earlier for those with an elevated risk for colon cancer.
What about you? If 50 has come and gone and you’re still feeling hesitant, talk to your doctor. He or she can explain exactly what’s involved and may be able to put some of your fears to rest.
Feeling nervous is no reason to put off scheduling this important procedure. Here are a few reasons why it’s vital to get a colonoscopy.
4 Reasons to Schedule a Colonoscopy
1. To Detect Colon Cancer
According to the CDC, colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in men and women, and the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States. When it’s caught early, colorectal cancer has a 90% survival rate. And the best way to detect colorectal cancer is a colonoscopy.
During a colonoscopy, your doctor will look for and remove polyps that could be early signs of cancer. They can then be tested to find out if they are noncancerous, precancerous, or cancerous.
If your doctor doesn’t find any polyps during your exam, you probably won’t need another colonoscopy for 10 years. Otherwise, you may have to return sooner, depending on the size and number.
2. To Prevent Colon Cancer
That’s right – in addition to being an important step towards early detection, a colonoscopy can actually prevent colorectal cancer. As a matter of fact, according to one source, the removal of precancerous polyps lowers the risk of developing colorectal cancer by 70%. By removing polyps early, there is no chance that they will develop into cancer at a later stage. If you do have polyps, you will probably have to return more frequently to check for new growths.
3. To Investigate Intestinal Issues
If you experience signs or symptoms like abdominal pain, chronic constipation or diarrhea, rectal bleeding, or other intestinal issues, your doctor may recommend a colonoscopy to look for possible causes.
4. To Diagnose Other Conditions
Colonoscopies can also detect Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, which are inflammatory diseases of the intestines. Both of these conditions could increase the risk of colorectal cancer. Early diagnosis can reduce long term damage, like pain, scarring and bleeding in the colon, and intestinal blockages that could require surgery. Not to mention lowering your risk of developing cancer down the road.
Diverticulitis is another condition that can be discovered during a colonoscopy. Pockets that form on the inside lining of the colon can become inflamed and infected, causing pain and discomfort. Identifying diverticulitis early allows you to make simple dietary changes that can prevent complications from arising later.
If you’ve been putting off having a colonoscopy, don’t delay any longer. Talk to your doctor about scheduling this important procedure. It could spare you pain and discomfort and could even save your life!
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