We all cherish the gift of feeling perfectly healthy, maintaining an active lifestyle, and relishing life’s pleasures. However, beneath the surface of our well-being, a silent threat may lurk, unnoticed and undetectable, until it becomes a significant concern. That threat is colorectal cancer, the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in both men and women.
While the thought of a colonoscopy may scare you, this preventive procedure is crucial in the early detection and effective treatment of colorectal cancer. Colonoscopies allow healthcare providers to detect abnormalities or growths in the colon and rectum that could lead to cancer.
So, don’t wait for symptoms to appear. Let’s uncover the significance of routine colonoscopies and how they can be a proactive step toward a healthier future.
Yes! A colonoscopy is a diagnostic procedure that enables a skilled and specialized gastroenterologist to examine the lining of the large intestine, commonly called the colon.
Colonoscopies serve as the gold standard for detecting and preventing colorectal cancer. As medical professionals recommend, you can significantly reduce your risk of developing this potentially devastating and life-threatening disease by adhering to regular screenings.
The procedure entails using a long, flexible tube equipped with a miniature camera called a colonoscope. The colonoscope is carefully inserted through the rectum and navigated along the colon, generating real-time images of the colon’s interior.
These images enable the gastroenterologist to identify abnormalities such as polyps or tumors that may be precursors to cancer. By detecting these abnormalities early on, healthcare providers can take timely action to prevent them from progressing into cancerous conditions.
Determining the right time to go for your first colonoscopy screening depends on the following factors:
As a general guideline, it is typically recommended that individuals at average risk for colorectal cancer start screening at 45. However, if you have a family history of colorectal cancer or certain genetic conditions, such as Lynch syndrome or familial adenomatous polyposis, screening may begin at an earlier age.
A strong family history of colorectal cancer can significantly increase your risk. A family history of colorectal cancer or advanced polyps may require earlier screening.
If you have a history of colorectal polyps or colorectal cancer, your healthcare provider may recommend starting screening earlier than the general population. The timing and frequency of subsequent screenings depend on your healthcare provider’s specific findings and recommendations.
Certain medical conditions, such as inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis), may increase the risk of developing colorectal cancer. Individuals with these conditions often require earlier and more frequent screenings.
Unhealthy choices, such as a sedentary lifestyle, poor diet, obesity, smoking, and excessive alcohol consumption, can increase the risk of colorectal cancer. Doctors may advise individuals with these risk factors to start screening earlier or undergo more frequent screenings.
Consult with an experienced gastroenterologist to gain a clearer understanding of when you should schedule your first colonoscopy. They will evaluate your circumstances and provide personalized recommendations.
There are several benefits in terms of preventive healthcare and early detection of colorectal cancer. Why is it important to get routine colonoscopies? Here are the four reasons why it is important to get routine colonoscopies:
One of the best reasons why it is important to get routine colonoscopies is that they enable the early detection and removal of polyps, which are small growths in the colon or rectum. Polyps can potentially develop into cancer over time.
Detecting and removing these polyps during a colonoscopy reduces the risk of developing colorectal cancer. If cancer is already present, colonoscopies can help identify it early when treatment is more effective, and the chances of a complete cure are higher.
Routine colonoscopies allow for the timely diagnosis of colorectal cancer, enabling doctors to offer various treatment options that may not be available later. Early-stage colorectal cancer is often treated with minimally invasive procedures such as localized surgery or endoscopic resection. These procedures have better outcomes and fewer complications than more invasive treatments for advanced-stage cancer.
Colonoscopies can help detect and manage colon disease and other gastrointestinal conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease, diverticulosis, and Crohn’s disease. Early identification allows for timely treatment and symptom management, improving the overall quality of life.
Another reason why it is important to get routine colonoscopies is that they provide peace of mind by allowing you to actively participate in your health and take proactive measures to prevent or detect potential health issues. By addressing concerns and taking steps to prevent colorectal cancer, you can reduce anxiety and feel more confident about your overall well-being.
One common concern people have about colonoscopies is the length of the procedure. A colonoscopy takes approximately 30 minutes to an hour to complete. However, the actual duration may vary depending on the following factors:
– Patient’s bowel preparation
– Presence of polyps or abnormalities requiring additional examination or intervention
– Experience and skill of the endoscopist
Before the procedure, you are given sedation to help you relax and minimize any discomfort. Recovery from sedation can take a few hours, so arrange a ride home after the procedure.
After the exam, you may feel bloated or have to pass gas for a while, but walking could help ease the pain. After having polyps removed or tissue samples taken, you may have some minor bleeding during your first bowel movement. You should see a doctor if bleeding or clotting persists or if you have chronic abdominal pain or fever.
Despite the temporary inconvenience, early detection and prevention benefits far outweigh the time spent on the procedure. So, undergoing a colonoscopy is a small price to pay for the potential life-saving outcomes it can yield.
Routine colonoscopies are a crucial aspect of preventive healthcare, providing a powerful tool for the early detection and prevention of colorectal cancer. By undergoing this simple procedure, you are taking a proactive step toward preserving your well-being and potentially saving your life.
At Dr Jan J Shim, MD, we understand the significance of routine colonoscopies in promoting overall health and preventing colorectal cancer. As a trusted multi-specialty group of gastroenterologists, our mission is to provide comprehensive digestive healthcare to our patients. Contact us today to get expert care for all your gastrointestinal health issues.