A Colonoscopy Can Save Your Life (and It's Not as Bad as You Might Think!)

When you have the opportunity to do health screenings for serious conditions like colon cancer, you want to jump at the chance. Death rates due to this disease have been dropping for decades, in large part due to the colonoscopy. 

At Gulf West Medical Associates, Dr. Rajesh Dave and our team believe that staying one step ahead of your health is paramount, which is why we offer comprehensive preventive care services

In the following, we focus on the role a colonoscopy can play in safeguarding your health, and why the procedure isn’t as bad as you might think.

Colorectal cancers by the numbers

The American Cancer Society predicts that there will be more than 104,000 new cases of colon cancer in the United States in 2021. Lifetime risks for developing colorectal cancers is 1 in 23 for men and 1 in 25 for women, and it’s the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths among men and women combined.

Despite these sobering numbers, death rates for colorectal cancers have been declining for decades, mostly thanks to the increasing acceptance of the colonoscopy as a valuable screening tool.

What a colonoscopy can tell us

During a colonoscopy, the doctor uses a long tube (colonoscope) to inspect your large intestine (colon) and your rectum for any abnormalities.

What we mean by “abnormalities'' are polyps or suspicious tissues that could lead to cancer as well as any cancer that’s already taken hold. 

It’s important to note that a colonoscopy isn’t just a scouting technique, as the doctor also removes the polyps and/or suspicious tissue for further investigation through a biopsy. 

An easy procedure that may save your life

Let’s face it, colonoscopies have a bad reputation, but we feel that this reputation is undeserved. The hardest part of a colonoscopy is the preparation, which is more inconvenient than “hard.” 

For 24 hours before your scheduled appointment, you’ll drink fluids that flush out your colon so the doctor is better able to visualize your lower intestine and rectum. Yes, this will make you go to the bathroom quite a bit, but think of it as a much-needed cleansing experience.

The colonoscopy itself is very easy, and you’ll be sedated so that you won’t feel a thing. In fact, most patients don’t even remember the procedure. After your colonoscopy, you’re free to return home.

How often should I have a colonoscopy?

This question is tough to answer, as it depends upon your risk factors. If you don’t have a family history of colon cancer or a medical issue that’s related to colon cancer, we suggest you get your first screening at age 45. If you do have risk factors, we may recommend that you get screened earlier.

Assuming there’s nothing alarming in the findings, you won’t need another colonoscopy for 10 years. If there is something that bears closer monitoring, you may need more regular screenings.

The bottom line is that you have everything to gain and nothing to lose in getting a colonoscopy.

If you have more questions about how a colonoscopy can benefit your health or you’d like to get started, please contact our office in Port Richey, Florida, to schedule a consultation.

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