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Are you aware that March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month? This month, Saltzer Health is raising awareness about the importance of getting a colonoscopy. We want to share with you the significance of this screening procedure and why it is essential for everyone, particularly for those at high risk of developing colorectal cancer.
Why is getting a colonoscopy important?
According to John Dever, MD, a board-certified gastroenterologist with Saltzer Health, “Colonoscopy is the gold standard for detecting and preventing colorectal cancer. It is a safe and effective screening test that can detect precancerous polyps and remove them before they develop into cancer.”
Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in the United States, with over 140,000 new cases diagnosed each year. Regular screening, starting at age 45 for most people, can detect the cancer early and increase the chances of a complete cure.
What is Colon Cancer?
Colon cancer is a type of cancer that starts in the colon, which is the final part of the digestive tract. According to the American Cancer Society, there will be an estimated 147,950 new cases of colon cancer in the United States in 2022, with around 53,540 deaths.
Colon cancer is highly preventable if caught early, which is why getting a colonoscopy is so important. During a colonoscopy, a gastroenterologist will examine the colon for any signs of cancer or precancerous polyps. If polyps are found, they can be removed during the same procedure, reducing the risk of cancer developing.
Who should get a colonoscopy?
The American Cancer Society recommends that people at average risk of developing colorectal cancer start regular screening at age 45. Individuals with a family history of colorectal cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, or certain genetic conditions may need to start screening earlier or have more frequent screenings.
Preparing for a Colonoscopy
Preparing for a colonoscopy can be intimidating, but it’s a crucial part of the procedure. The preparation involves cleaning out the colon so that the gastroenterologist can get a clear view during the procedure.
John Dever, MD, advises that “the preparation is the most important part of the colonoscopy. Follow the instructions carefully to ensure a successful procedure.”
The preparation may involve a liquid diet the day before the procedure and taking laxatives to clear out the colon. Your gastroenterologist will provide specific instructions to follow.
Watch our Colonoscopy Preparation Video on YouTube.
What can you expect during a colonoscopy?
A colonoscopy is a relatively simple procedure that typically takes less than an hour. You will be given medication to help you relax and make you feel comfortable during the exam. A thin, flexible tube with a camera on the end, called a colonoscope, is inserted into the rectum and slowly advanced through the entire colon.
If your gastroenterologist discovers any polyps or abnormalities during the procedure, they may remove them at the same time. The removed tissue is then sent to a lab for analysis to determine if it is cancerous or precancerous.
After the exam, you will need someone to drive you home as the sedative can cause drowsiness and impaired coordination. You may experience some mild discomfort, bloating, or cramping, but these symptoms usually subside within a few hours.
Take action now
Don’t wait until it’s too late. Take advantage of National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month and schedule your colonoscopy today. Call 208-960-0650, chat from website or visit this link to request an appointment.
Remember, early detection is key to successfully treating and preventing colorectal cancer. By taking the time to get screened, you can protect yourself and your loved ones from this disease.