Don't Put Off That Colonoscopy — Understanding the Importance - Gastroenterology of Westchester LLC
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Don’t Put Off That Colonoscopy — Understanding the Importance

Don’t Put Off That Colonoscopy — Understanding the Importance

Early detection and intervention are crucial when it comes to cancer. In fact, detecting precancerous signs is your best defense against the onset of this disease. And that’s why colonoscopies are so important — they screen for colorectal cancer.

We know the thought of one may make you uneasy, causing you to put off this potentially life-saving exam. But a colonoscopy is an ounce of prevention that can save you from far worse problems down the line.

Here’s some insight on why you shouldn’t procrastinate when it comes to your colonoscopy.

Early Screenings Often Means Cancer Prevention

When it comes to cancer, colon cancer is the second leading killer according to the CDC. For a time, doctors recommended screenings for older patients only, typically 50+. But as cases of colon cancer grew among a younger population, guidelines now recommend a colonoscopy for patients at 45. 

As more people have begun getting screened earlier, the number of colon cancer deaths has seen a steady decrease, especially compared to a couple of decades ago. Many of these deaths were prevented by your typical colonoscopy, as it helped catch the issue early and stopped cancer in its tracks.

The good news about colon disease is that it’s highly treatable if detected early. That’s why heading in for your colonoscopy screening is so important. And don’t put off updated screenings, either!

More Than A Typical Screening

When colon cancer starts, tiny growths known as polyps form inside the colon. At first, they may be benign, but could eventually turn cancerous. Discovering polyps during a colonoscopy is concerning of course, but you’re in good hands with the experts at Gastroenterology of Westchester.

With a colonoscope, your doctor removes precancerous and cancerous polyps. This is why this procedure is the so critical, and why you absolutely should not skip it.

When colon cancer is found during stage I, the outlook is quite good (a survival rate of 90 percent for the five-year mark). However, the chance of survival dramatically drops if the cancer is found at stage III or higher; down to as low as 12 percent. Your colonoscopy helps find colon cancer in the early stages, and your insurance should cover the screening completely. Make sure to reach out to your provider for the full details before making your appointment, though.

Warning Signs of Colon Cancer

Colon cancer may not be immediately obvious, as symptoms are often mild and can mimic other gastrointestinal issues. If you notice any GI disturbance that lasts more than a few days, it’s time to reach out t your doctor.

Typical early signs of colon cancer may include:

  • Abdominal cramping
  • Abnormal bowel movements
  • Bloating
  • Bloody stool
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Sudden weigh loss

As mentioned, these symptoms reflect other GI issues like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). The symptoms alone can’t provide you with immediate diagnosis. However, going in for a colonoscopy will provide you with answers right away. The procedure will alert you of polyps, cancer, or other precancerous activity.

If you’re aware of a family history of colorectal cancer, a screening is extra important. In fact, your doctor may recommend scheduling an earlier screening.

Trust Us, It’s Not Bad!

If you’ve never had a colonoscopy before, the prospect might seem a little intimidating, but you’d be surprised how simple and routine colonoscopies truly are.

The most difficult part is typically considered the prep period. Prep consists of a 24-hour colon cleanse, which helps detox your gastrointestinal tract. You may have to stay away from some favorite foods for a brief time, but it’s worth it in the end.

When you’re in the room, your doctor will provide you with a sedative. This ensures your comfort and relaxation during the procedure. Believe it or not, your doctors do want you to be as comfortable as possible. We understand your nerves and the anxiety around this sort of thing. Once you’re sedated and at ease, your doctor performs the procedure.

All-in-all, you probably won’t remember a thing, and you’ll be thankful to finally know exactly what’s happening in your body.


Final Thoughts

Although a colonoscopy can seem like an ordeal, all it takes it a little detox, compassionate expert care, easy sedation, and you’re good to go.

Getting your screening done on time, as often as recommended, is an integral part of your life-long health. The simple screening not only detects issues, but in some cases, can address them on the spot. As you can see, there’s nothing to lose by keeping your screening appointment and potentially life to gain.

Call your insurance to ensure your coverage and schedule your appointment today.