Studies done by Roper St. Francis Healthcare show that patients in our area have fallen far behind on the nationally recommended guidelines for colon cancer screenings. This is worrisome.
Despite the fact that colorectal cancer has a 90 percent chance of cure in its early stages, colon cancer is expected to cause over 50,000 deaths in the U.S. this year. It’s the second leading cancer killer in the U.S. behind lung cancer. And it’s now affecting younger people, not just those 50 and older. But here’s the gut-wrenching truth: Almost all patients who get colorectal cancer do so because they missed their recommended screenings. Most notably, a colonoscopy.
Of course, our patient population isn’t exactly alone in avoiding this gold standard of cancer exams. It’s a nationwide problem. Awareness campaigns by groups like Fight Colorectal Cancer and the Colon Cancer Coalition are working hard to get 80 percent national participation in timely colon cancer screenings. They’ve discovered that the use of humor helps people overcome their embarrassment over the thought of having a colonoscopy. They’ve launched initiatives like ü ur : (check your colon) and Get Your Rear In Gear and Tour de Tush bike, walk and run events.
So, you’re not alone if the thought of a doctor inserting a scope in your backside is embarrassing. Or if you dread the bowel cleansing prep. (Your colon needs to be empty for the examination.) Or if you think that because you have no symptoms, you must be okay. But come on.
A cancer-preventing colonoscopy is really not that bad. During a colonoscopy, your doctor searches your entire large intestine (colon) and rectum to find and remove polyps. If not removed, these small abnormal growths can become cancerous. That’s how colonoscopies save lives.
If you get the “all clear” on a colonoscopy, you won’t need another screening for five to 10 years.
It’s time to put fear and embarrassment behind you. If you are 45 or older or have a family history of colorectal disease, schedule a colonoscopy. We want you to live a long and healthy life. If we do find cancer, rest assured Roper St. Francis Healthcare is internationally renowned for our medical and surgical treatment of colorectal cancer. But please don’t let it come to that.