The thought of colon cancer can be scary – nearly five percent of Americans will develop colorectal cancer in their lifetime. But the disease is often silent – meaning symptoms don’t typically appear until the disease is more advanced. Colorectal cancer is the third leading cause of cancer death, even though it can be prevented or treated 99 percent of the time with one simple procedure. That’s why USA colorectal surgeons are encouraging you to do something to help beat colon cancer before it starts – get your screening colonoscopy.

Even though it’s shown to be incredibly effective, about 60 percent of people who should have a colonoscopy each year don’t follow through with the appointment. That number is even greater in this area of the country. Some people are concerned about the bowel preparation or they’re afraid it will be painful, uncomfortable or done without sedation, even though colonoscopies have vastly improved in recent years.

The dreaded bowel prep is now easier to complete, and adequate sedation helps patients feel comfortable – without remembering anything about it afterwards. Simply put, it’s completely painless. The best part is that if a polyp or non-cancerous growth is found, it can be removed without the chance of it turning into cancer.

Who should have a colonoscopy and when? 

The recommendations for colonoscopy screening have been updated in recent years. The American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons (ASCRS) recommends colonoscopy screening beginning at age 45 and every ten years for people with average risk of colorectal cancer. If you or any family members have had colon cancer or polyps, you should have a colonoscopy every five years. Even though overall rates of colorectal cancer have been steadily falling, recent studies have shown an uptick in the incidence of colon cancer in younger people and for those who are not considered high risk for the disease.

If you have a family history of colon cancer, especially a first-degree relative with the disease, it’s important to talk with your doctor about your risk in the context of other health factors and determine your appropriate screening schedule.

Don’t Ignore the Symptoms 

Colorectal cancers can present in many different ways. Part of why screening colonoscopies are so important is that often times people have no symptoms at all. Even if you don’t have a family history and aren’t yet 45 but are experiencing symptoms, these warning signs are a reason to see your doctor:

  • Blood in your stool
  • Bowel never empties completely
  • Constipation, diarrhea or narrower stools than usual
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Persistent gas, pain, cramps or feeling bloated
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Weakness or fatigue

Expertise You Can Trust

The colorectal surgeons at USA are experts in the surgical and nonsurgical treatment of colon and rectal problems and play an instrumental role in the effective screening, prevention and treatment of colorectal cancer.

Studies have shown that patients treated by colorectal surgeons are more likely to survive colorectal cancer because of their advanced training and the large number of colon and rectal disease surgeries they perform.

The message from colorectal cancer experts is clear: Don’t let fear of the unknown or a busy schedule keep you from this lifesaving screening. One day out of your life to save your life is well worth it. To schedule your colonoscopy, call (423) 267-0466.