Preventive screenings of any kind play an invaluable role in helping you stay one step ahead, and this is certainly true of the colonoscopy. In fact, deaths due to colorectal cancer in the United States have been steadily declining over the past few decades thanks, in large part, to this important screening.
As gastrointestinal experts, the team here at Digestive Disease Specialists understands the incredibly valuable role that a colonoscopy can play in safeguarding your health. If you have been putting off this quick-and-easy procedure, our goal is to provide you with a little motivation to schedule your colonoscopy.
Colorectal cancer by the numbers
While cancer screenings have helped to bring down the number of deaths due to colorectal cancers in the US, the statistics are still sobering.
Each year, more than 150,000 colorectal cancers are diagnosed, and these diseases claim more than 52,000 lives, making these types of cancers the second most common cause of cancer deaths in men and women combined.
The risk for men for colorectal cancer is about 1 in 23, and the risk for women is slightly lower at 1 in 25.
There is good news in these numbers — there are more than 1.5 million survivors of colorectal cancer in the US, and the colonoscopy plays no small role in these successes.
What a colonoscopy accomplishes
When we perform a colonoscopy, we have several goals, including:
- Taking a closer look at the interior walls of your colon
- Identifying and removing any polyps we may find
- Performing a biopsy of the polyp tissues when we do find them
In other words, a colonoscopy screening goes far beyond simply identifying the potential for cancer as we can remove suspicious tissues at the same time.
What to expect before, during, and after a colonoscopy
While many people are apprehensive about having a colonoscopy, most tell us afterward that the process was not as bad as they had expected.
To get a clear view of the walls of your colon, we place you on a cleanse for the 24 hours leading up to the procedure. Yes, you will spend some time in the bathroom as everything in your colon clears out, but it is only a minor inconvenience, and you can think of it as a great purifying experience.
When you come in for your colonoscopy, we provide you with a sedative, so you will not feel any discomfort whatsoever or even remember the procedure itself. While you are sedated, we insert a camera through your rectum and thread the tiny instrument up into your colon where we can closely examine the walls.
As we mentioned, if we find any suspicious growths (polyps), we remove them for further study.
The procedure usually takes us less than an hour to perform, after which you will emerge from your sedation. Once we check that everything went smoothly, you are free to go home.
When to get your colonoscopy
We recommend that you get your first colonoscopy at 45 or 50, unless you have any factors that may place you more at risk for colorectal cancer, such as a family history of the cancer or a pre-existing digestive disease, such as irritable bowel syndrome.
Your colonoscopy schedule from there depends upon what we find. In the best-case scenario, we find nothing of concern, and you can wait 10 years before your next screening. If we do find something of concern, we may recommend more frequent screenings.
It isn’t often that we get a chance to successfully screen our health, which is why a colonoscopy should be at the top of your list of preventive care. To schedule your colonoscopy, contact one of our offices in Moline, Illinois, or Davenport, Iowa.