Why colonoscopies don't have to be scary
March is national Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. Colorectal cancer is the third leading cause of death in both men and women and it is expected to cause more than 51,000 deaths in 2019.
Even though a colonoscopy can lower your risk of dying from colorectal cancer, many people are afraid of the big scope. Here are some reasons why it may all be in your head.
Ninety percent of colon cancers are preventable, but only about 50 percent of people who should have colonoscopies actually get them. One reason many give is fear of pain. However, doctors say most patients shouldn’t feel any pain because they’re placed under anesthesia.
“Most the time, patients basically enter into a relative dream-like twilight zone level and then when they wake up. They don’t even remember that the procedure was done,” says Dr. Matthew Ciorba from Washington University in St. Louis.
Another reason people shy away from getting their colonoscopy is because of the preparation that’s involved. However, the preparation required for a colonoscopy has vastly improved in recent years.
“Now there are some other options that also can use about half that volume, so about a half a gallon of liquid,” Dr. Ciorba continues.
There are also at-home colon cancer screening kits, but they’ll need to be repeated more often than a colonoscopy. You’ll also still need a colonoscopy if the at-home test detects cancer.
Finally, even if you think a colonoscopy is the worst thing in the world, it might help save your life.
“I have had a colonoscopy and I have had cancer and cancer is worse, so much worse,” said cancer patient Anne Schreiber.
People tend to think colonoscopies are just for those in their 50s, but that's not necessarily the case.
The American Cancer Society has found a sharp increase of adults in their 20s and 30s being diagnosed with colorectal cancer.
Someone born in 1990 had double the risk of colon cancer and four times the risk of rectal cancer than someone born in 1950.
Contributors to this news report include: Milvionne Chery, Field Producer; and Roque Correa, Editor.