Colonoscopy: It's Not Nearly as Bad as You Think and Can Save Your LIfe

Even though colorectal cancer is second only to heart disease as a leading cause of death among Americans, too few people take advantage of the latest screening tools available. Patients often cite embarrassment as one of the primary reasons for putting off colonoscopy testing. 

Our gastroenterologists here at Illinois Gastroenterology Group want patients to know that getting a colonoscopy isn’t as dreadful as you may think. 

Colonoscopies save lives

The chances of successful treatment are higher when cancer is detected in the early stages, making screening tests vital to survival. Today, colonoscopy is the best screening test for detecting colorectal cancer.

Colon cancer often progresses without causing obvious symptoms to alert you that there’s trouble brewing. Without screening, you may have colon cancer and remain completely unaware until it’s too late. Colonoscopies play an important role in saving lives.

What is a colonoscopy?

A colonoscopy allows our gastroenterologists to examine the lining of the colon (large intestine) for abnormalities. Your provider checks for tumors, abnormal growths, and changes that can go on to become cancer in the future. 

This screening test enables doctors to spot problems and remove them immediately. Undergoing a colonoscopy increases the chances that we’ll catch abnormalities at the earliest stages before they develop into cancer.

Who should get a colonoscopy 

It’s recommended that people at average risk start screening for colon cancer at the age of 45. We may recommend that you begin testing earlier if you have you have a family history of colon cancer or you’ve had certain types of colon polyps in the past. Your provider at Illinois Gastroenterology Group will discuss recommendations with you after going over your medical history.

No need to dread getting a colonoscopy

Getting a colonoscopy usually isn’t on the top of everyone’s list of ways to ring in the new year, but it should be. Making your health a priority is an excellent way to start the year, making January a perfect time to schedule a colonoscopy screening. 

Many patients admit to putting off getting a colonoscopy because they’re afraid it will hurt or that they’ll be embarrassed. We’re here to reassure you that colonoscopy testing really isn’t all that bad.

The simple truth about colonoscopies 

The idea of having a tube inserted in your backside can understandably make any patient anxious, but the reality is that colonoscopy is a simple procedure. Your provider uses a thin, flexible tube called a colonoscope to take a close look at your large intestine. It may surprise you to know that the colonoscope is well-tolerated. You may feel some pressure but should not feel any pain. 

If no abnormalities are found, the entire procedure takes about 30 minutes. Most patients are given a sedative and feel relaxed while they rest comfortably during the procedure. It’s not uncommon to fall asleep and not remember the procedure at all.

Colonoscopy prep is easier than you think

Patients often dread the colonoscopy preparation more than or as much as the procedure itself. In order for your provider to examine the colon, patients must clean the large intestine out ahead of time. Any food or residue in the colon can interfere with visibility and make screening less effective.

A day or two before the colonoscopy, you need to adjust your diet and drink a prescribed liquid to help clean out the colon. A good prep is crucial to colonoscopy screening. Follow the colonoscopy prep instructions your provider gives you. Any shortcuts or deviations increases the risk of missing abnormalities in your colon. 

After colonoscopy prep, the colon is completely cleaned out so there is nothing to feel embarrassed about when it comes to looking inside the colon. Planning ahead and cutting back on fiber a few days before the procedure is helpful.

Make your health a priority

It’s understandable to feel anxious about any medical procedure. Rest assured that a colonoscopy is a safe, effective, life-saving procedure that should be a priority for adults ages 45 and over. Reach out to our team of experts to schedule an appointment. We have clinics throughout Greater Chicagoland, including Oak Lawn, Palos Heights, and Oakbrook Terrace, Illinois.

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