Colorectal Cancer: Early detection could save your life

According to the American Cancer Society, colorectal cancer is the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in women in the United States and the second leading cause in men. An estimated 135,000 men & women will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer in 2017. But, that number could be cut in half if everyone at age 50 had a colonoscopy.

Although you may not look forward to this procedure it’s fairly simple and effective way to catch colon cancer. Alleviate your concerns by knowing what to expect before, during and after your colonoscopy.

What is a colonoscopy?
A colonoscopy is an outpatient procedure that allows your doctor to look at the lining of your large intestine (colon and rectum). A colonoscope — thin and flexible tube with a small video camera on the end — is inserted into your colon. At the same time, air is pumped into your colon to keep it open for the doctor to see clearly.

Who needs a colonoscopy?
Colon cancer screening should begin at age 50 for most people. The frequency thereafter depends on what your doctor finds during the screening. Typically if abnormalities or cancer are not detected and you don’t have risk factors, the next screening should be in ten years.

Where are colonoscopies done?
Colonoscopies are done in an outpatient setting — clinic, hospital or surgery center — and in a private room.

What happens before a colonoscopy?
In order for your doctor to get a clear view, you have to empty your colon. Typically this includes eating a special diet, drinking a liquid laxative and stopping medications for up to a week before your procedure. The bowel prep usually starts the day before your procedure, but your doctor will give you explicit instructions about when and how to prepare. Follow the instructions — if you don’t. Your doctor may not be able to see your colon and may have to repeat the colonoscopy.

What happens during a colonoscopy?
A colonoscopy takes about 30 minutes from start to finish. However, you will be asked to arrive early to prepare for the exam. You will likely be given sedation and anesthesia to ease any discomfort during the procedure, and most people do not remember very much (if anything) afterward.

What happens after a colonoscopy?
After the procedure, you will rest while the sedation wears off. Because of the medication you received during the procedure, you will be drowsy and should NOT drive, so make sure you have a ride home. You should not drive or work for the rest of the day.

The bottom line — It’s simple — colonoscopies can save lives!

Source: 7 Things to Know About Getting a Colonoscopy, American Cancer Society,