Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death for men and women, which is why March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month and why colonoscopy screenings are so important.
Colon Cancer Facts
- Colorectal cancers typically develop slowly and over several years.
- Early colorectal cancers usually have no symptoms—making regular screenings essential.
- 90 percent of colorectal cancers are preventable, and it starts with scheduling a colonoscopy.
What is a Colonoscopy?
If you’re age 50 or older and haven’t had a colonoscopy, now is the time to schedule one. A colonoscopy is an examination in which a doctor inserts a thin tube with a camera into the rectum and up into the colon (the large intestine). The doctor is looking for small growths, called polyps, which sometimes can become cancerous.
Why is a Colonoscopy So Important?
Finding and removing polyps before they become cancerous actually prevents colon cancer. If cancer has already developed, the earlier it is treated, the more likely it can be cured. Most polyps and early cancers do not have any symptoms.
What If a Polyp is Found?
The polyps will be removed during the colonoscopy. This does not cause any pain. The polyps are sent to the laboratory to identify whether they are cancerous or not.
Will the Exam Hurt?
You will be sedated for the exam, and most people have no discomfort while others experience a slight amount of abdominal pressure for a short time. Because you are receiving sedation, you will need someone to drive you home after the procedure.
Why Do I Need to Take a Medication to Prepare for the Test?
Your colon is about five feet long and has liquid and solid stool throughout. For the doctor to be able to see any polyps, the colon needs to be cleaned out by taking a medication. This medication—a special fluid you can drink—will give you loose watery stools. There have been many improvements in the prepping solutions, including low volume doses that are much easier to tolerate.
Will My Insurance Pay For the Exam?
Almost all insurance companies pay for a colonoscopy after the age of 50. If you have a screening colonoscopy, meaning you have not had any symptoms (like abdominal pain or blood in the stool) and have not had an abnormal colonoscopy in the past, then there is no copay or deductible.
Patient Story: Sue was healthy and didn’t have any family history of colorectal cancer. And yet, at 47 years old, she was diagnosed with the cancer. Click here to read Sue’s inspiring story of how she fought through this cancer and why you should get screened.
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