Excuse: (n): something offered as a justification to remove responsibility.
Everyone has an excuse for not getting a colonoscopy. In fact, nearly 20 percent of a group surveyed listed “no good reason,” as the reason they have not elected to get a colonoscopy. When you consider just how vital a colonoscopy is in preventing cancer, “no good reason,” becomes a pretty lame excuse, along with “I don’t have time” or “it’s uncomfortable.” Screening colonoscopies save lives and are the only type of colon cancer screening that both detects and prevents colon cancer. Discover why all the excuses you can think of are not nearly as good as the fact that this preventive screening stops cancer in its tracks when completed on schedule.
A colonoscopy is the only colon cancer screening that can detect and prevent colon cancer, but popular myths and excuses deter millions of Americans from this life-saving procedure. One of the most common excuses for not getting a colonoscopy is lack of time. Have you or a loved one ever made any of these excuses?
“My job requires me to travel.”
“I’m caring for an aging parent.”
“I work the night shift and sleep during the day.”
“Look at my calendar! Do you see an open day this month?”
Everyone has an excuse, but there IS time for a colonoscopy. A colonoscopy actively prevents colon cancer, the third-leading cause of cancer death in the United States. The American Cancer Society estimates there were 97,220 new cases of colon cancer and 43,030 new cases of rectal cancer in 2018, and 60 to 90 percent of colon cancer cases could have been prevented with routine colonoscopy used for colon cancer screening.
How does a colonoscopy prevent colon cancer? All colon cancer starts as a polyp, an abnormal growth in the lining of the colon. When you have a colonoscopy, your gastroenterologist will remove detected polyps in your colon to prevent cancer progression. It’s not an exaggeration to say colonoscopies save lives.
You may feel like a colonoscopy will take the entire day or disrupt your whole schedule. You may be asking yourself, “How long does a colonoscopy take?” Don’t worry! It’s probably a much shorter time commitment than you think. From drop-off to pick-up, a colonoscopy screening appointment takes no more than three hours in most cases. The procedure itself takes around 30 minutes — about 12 minutes to insert the scope and advance to the cecum and about 12 minutes to remove it. If your doctor finds polyps during the colon cancer screening, the procedure may take a little longer.
The most inconvenient part of a colonoscopy is the bowel preparation, also known as the colonoscopy prep. While colonoscopy prep is more palatable than it used to be, it’s not particularly pleasant either. The good news is that most doctors favor the split-dose method which divides the prep solution in two halves. If you begin the colonoscopy prep in the evening and schedule your colonoscopy for the following morning, you will be done in less than 24 hours. Colonoscopy recovery is quite simple, and most people return to work the following day.
There is no substitute for a colonoscopy.
Other tests like stool DNA tests, fecal immunochemical tests or fecal occult blood tests sound easier and faster, but these tests can only detect an abnormality. They can’t diagnose colon cancer or prevent it. If you get a positive result from any of these tests, you will have to get a diagnostic colonoscopy for a full examination and possible polyp removal — and it will no longer be covered by your insurance as a preventive screening.
Now that you understand why a colonoscopy is a priority for your GI health, it’s time to plan your procedure. The American Cancer Society recommends all adults who are at average risk for colon cancer begin colon cancer screening at age 45, so talk to your GI doctor about your recommended colonoscopy age. If you are looking for a fellowship-trained gastroenterologist in your area, you can use our locator tool here: Find a Gastroenterologist Near Me