You have probably seen it before... a social media post highlighting colorectal cancer awareness month. Did that Facebook post encourage you to get a colonoscopy? Chances are, probably not. The fear and myths associated with colonoscopies tend to shy people away from getting the very necessary screening that could save their life. Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in both men and women, and more than half of those cases could be prevented with proper screening.
Reasons why you're avoiding a colonoscopy
There are many reasons why people avoid a colonoscopy. Whether it be fear or lack of time, there is always one reason why they never make an appointment. Read some of the most common reasons why patients avoid colonoscopies, and the reality behind each:
No one in my family has colorectal cancer, so I am not at risk and don't need to be screened.
- According to the American Cancer Society, it is estimated that there will be 104,270 new cases of colon cancer and 45, 230 new cases of rectal cancer in 2021. Around 85% of patients who are diagnosed with colorectal cancer have no family history of the disease.
My insurance will not pay for me to have a colonoscopy.
- Most insurance plans pay for screenings when you reach the appropriate age intervals. For example: if you are at an average risk, with no known risk factors, your first colonoscopy should be at the age of 50, and then every 10 years after that if test results are normal.
I don't feel sick, why do I have to look for it?
- Almost all colorectal cancers begin as polyps. If a polyp is found during a colonoscopy, it can be removed - which prevents it from turning into cancer. If you avoid a colonoscopy, polyps could be missed. While colorectal cancer is one of the most preventable cancers, it's also the third leading cancer-related death because not enough people get screened.
Reasons why you should stop putting it off
You have your reasons as to why you are avoiding it, but there are other reasons as to why you should stop putting it off, including:
Age. Age is one of the biggest risk factors for colorectal cancer. At the age of 50 (when you should have your first screening) is when your risk for colorectal cancer increases.
Diet. A diet consisting of highly processed food and red meat can contribute to an increased risk of colorectal cancer.
Overall health. Common risk factors for colorectal cancer are obesity, smoking, and alcohol use. Your lifestyle and overall health can be a contributor to your increased risk for colorectal cancer.
Medical conditions. Previous or current medical conditions associated with your colon and rectum can drastically increase your chance of being diagnosed with colorectal cancer. Some other significant risk factors include:
Inflammatory bowel diseases
Inherited syndromes like Lynch Syndrome
Hyperplastic and adenomatous polyps
You don't have to do it every year. Unless you have abnormal results or are determined to be high risk by your doctor, once you have your screening colonoscopy, you might not have to have one for another 5 to 10 years.
Early detection and prevention can save your life. It has been said before, but can be said again: colorectal cancer is one of the most preventable cancers for men and women. Early detection through colonoscopies can catch something before it turns into anything at all.
Putting it off? You're not alone
If you have been putting off your colonoscopy, you're not alone. According to an online survey of at-risk participants, these were the most common reasons for avoiding a colonoscopy:
- 28% felt it was not necessary
- 20% dislike the procedure
- 15% rely on other methods to avoid colon cancer
- 6% didn't know they were supposed to get one
- 6% are too busy
If you have been avoiding it, you might fit in with one of these categories. Whether you don't like the procedure or feel like you're too busy to schedule it, the reasons as to why you should stop avoiding it remain the same. Early detection prevents colorectal cancer and can save lives.
Make an appointment with our team of general surgeons
You may never feel like you're ready to schedule a colonoscopy, but the time is now. If you have just hit the screening age or feel like your lifestyle may put you at-risk, don't hesitate to schedule an appointment with one of our general surgeons here at Logansport Memorial Hospital.
"If you are over the age of 45, it's time to start thinking about colon screening options. One of the best things you can do is get a colonoscopy." - Dr. Todd Weinstein, General Surgeon