If you’re age 50 or older, your doctor may have recommended you get a colonoscopy. This test, which uses a thin, lighted tube to view inside the colon and rectum, checks for:
- Polyps, which are growths or bumps that could turn into cancer
- Colorectal cancer (cancer in the colon and/or rectum)
A colonoscopy gives the doctor a chance to remove polyps and possible cancerous growths during the test. Even though a colonoscopy is a safe and effective way to help prevent colorectal cancer or find it early, many people put off getting one. This is often because they are nervous about the test or they don’t want to do the “prep.” Preparing for a colonoscopy usually means you take medicines that cause diarrhea the day before the test. This can be inconvenient, but it’s worth the hassle.
Here are 4 good reasons you should call your doctor about scheduling it today:
- Early colon cancer has no symptoms. Many people have polyps or even colon cancer for months or years and don’t know it. A colonoscopy can find these things early and increase the chances of a good outcome. The earlier colon cancer is found, the higher the likelihood of successful treatment.
- One day of prep could save your life. No one likes to have diarrhea. But, one day of prep means you’re getting a test that checks for a common and sometimes deadly cancer. In fact, the American Cancer Society says more than 53,000 Americans will die from colorectal cancer in 2020. It is the second most common cause of cancer deaths when men and women are combined.
- There are ways to make the prep easier. Ask your doctor about adding certain flavorings to your medicine to make it taste better. Also, there are many clear liquids other than water you may be able to drink. Sports drinks, tea, coffee, popsicles and some broths may be allowed. Usually, red, blue and purple dyes need to be avoided, but other flavors are fine.
- Can’t put a price on peace of mind. With so many people being diagnosed with colorectal cancer, isn’t it worth a day of discomfort to know that you’ve been screened? Even if a polyp or possible sign of cancer is found, you can get on the path to treatment that could be life-saving.
Sources: American Cancer Society, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institutes of Health