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Colonoscopy: Have No Fear

A Rush expert demystifies the colonoscopy process

Gastrointestinal Health

A colonoscopy is a test use to examine the lining of large bowel or the colon. The instrument has a light source, and a lens attached to a video monitor. The test is used for colon cancer screening and for diagnosing various other diseases involving the colon in patients who may have bowel symptoms like bleeding or diarrhea.

Is the test as bad as it sounds? The answer is no. Fears and misconceptions persist: 

  • “Will I be able to drink the prep?"
  • "It may hurt."
  • "Complications may occur.”
  • “I am not the one who will get colon cancer.”

The fact is, a colonoscopy is one of the safest procedures performed by a gastroenterologist.

Each year, 150,000 new cases of colon cancer are diagnosed and 50,000 people die from it. 60% of these lives can be saved by increasing awareness for screening of colon cancer. A colonoscopy not only helps detect precancerous growths called polyps but also allows the opportunity for your gastroenterologist the ability to remove them there and then. This prevents colon cancer in future.

A colonoscopy may be inconvenient but it’s not painful. It takes less than 45 minutes and you are sedated during this time. Colon prep these days are split into two halves. The first half is taken the night before the procedure and the other half in the morning of the procedure, making it more tolerable. In fact, lower volume prep solutions are also available.

The chances of someone having colon cancer over their lifetime is 1 in 20, which is high. This can be prevented by timely screening.

Bottom line is do not skip out on screening. Although a colonoscopy is one of the most accurate tests for colon cancer screening, there are other stool based tests, which you may qualify for. Talk to your doctor to schedule your next screening today.

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