Colonoscopy – Why It’s a Lifesaver
Getting a colonoscopy isn’t anyone’s favorite thing to do. However, it’s a necessary procedure that can literally be a lifesaver. Here’s everything you need to know about colonoscopies and why they are so important.
What Is a Colonoscopy?
A colonoscopy is a medical procedure during which a doctor inserts a long, flexible tube with a camera called a colonoscope into the rectum and colon. The camera allows the doctor to view the inside of the colon and look for any abnormalities, such as polyps or cancerous growths. If any polyps are found, the doctor can remove them during the procedure.
Why Are Colonoscopies Important?
Colon cancer is the fourth most common cause of death from cancer in the United States. The good news is that colon cancer is one of the most preventable cancers. A study published in Science Direct stated, “An estimated 60% of CRC deaths could be prevented if all men and women aged 50 years or older were regularly screened.” A colonoscopy allows doctors to catch colon cancer in its early stages when it is most treatable. Studies have shown that colonoscopies can reduce the risk of dying from colon cancer by up to 68%.
Other Issues Detected During the Procedure
Besides finding and removing polyps, a colonoscopy can also be used to diagnose other digestive system issues, such as colitis and diverticulitis. Colitis is an inflammation of the colon in the lining of the large intestine. Diverticula are small pouches that form in the lining of the digestive system. When diverticula become inflamed or infected, this is referred to as diverticulitis.
How Often Should I Get a Colonoscopy?
If you are 45 years of age or older, you should get a colonoscopy every 5-10 years. If you have a family history of colon cancer or other risk factors, you may need to get one more frequently.
Do Colonoscopies Hurt?
Most people report mild discomfort during the procedure. You will be given medication to help you relax and pain medication if needed. After the procedure, you may feel some discomfort for 24 hours. This can include mild stomach cramping, gas pains, and bloating.
Protect Yourself Against Colon Cancer
You can reduce your risk of colon cancer by maintaining a healthy weight, eating a healthy diet, and exercising regularly. If you smoke, quitting is one of the best things you can do for your overall health, including reducing your risk of colon cancer.
No one looks forward to getting a colonoscopy, but it is an important medical procedure that can literally be a lifesaver. If you are over the age of 45 or have any other risk factors for colon cancer, be sure to talk to your doctor about getting a colonoscopy. It could save your life!