Despite being the single most effective method of detecting and preventing colorectal cancer deaths, colonoscopies are still approached by many with a sense of apprehension. This may be caused by societal stigma or just plain misinformation, but setting the record straight on colonoscopies and separating the facts from the myths is an important step in communicating just how crucial this common procedure can be in securing peace of mind for the future. Check out a few reasons why you should schedule a colonoscopy and why what you’ve heard from others may not be the whole truth.
1. Colonoscopies are painless.
One of the most common concerns we hear is a sense of dread over the discomfort or pain caused by the endoscope. Sometimes, they may also worry about the risk of injury or colon perforation. The truth is colonoscopies are completely painless — patients are sedated during the procedure, so there’s no feeling of discomfort whatsoever. Furthermore, the risk of perforation is minimal — 1 in 1,000, to be precise — compared to the risk of developing colorectal cancer in one’s lifetime (1 in 23 for men and 1 in 26 for women, according to the American Cancer Society).
2. Prep isn’t that bad.
Many people have heard horror stories of the colonoscopy prep, from the unpleasant taste to its equally unpleasant effects. This may have been true in the past — until recently, all colonoscopy patients were required to drink a gallon of clear, liquid prep solution before their screening. However, recent medical advancements have made the prep much more tolerable. Plenvu® and Suprep®, for example, are much less intensive with just 16 ounces of prep solution plus an additional 32 ounces of water the night before your colonoscopy, then repeating the same quantity six hours before the procedure.
3. Screenings are quick and convenient.
Trying to find enough time for a medical procedure can seem like a hassle. Thankfully, a colonoscopy won’t chew into your schedule too much. Averaging just around 30 minutes, colonoscopies are relatively quick procedures, allowing you to get back to your to-do list in virtually no time at all.
4. Colonoscopies are comprehensive.
Alternatives to colonoscopies have become more prevalent in recent years. At-home fecal test kits, for example, may be able to detect colorectal cancers. But these tests aren’t foolproof — in some cases, they may fail to detect cancers or polyps. Colonoscopies provide a more comprehensive examination of the colon lining and detecting abnormalities with more accuracy than home tests. Plus, when polyps are detected during a colonoscopy, they can be removed at the same time without scheduling another procedure — something at-home tests certainly can’t do. Finally, colonoscopies can detect numerous conditions in addition to colorectal cancers that other tests can’t find, including Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and diverticulosis.
5. There’s no need to be embarrassed.
Look, we here at CIEC don’t exist in a vacuum — we understand the societal stigmas around colonoscopies. These attitudes can lead to patients feeling embarrassed when they come in for those important procedures. There may be other patients in our waiting room when you come in — that’s a fact — but the truth is they’re in the same situation as you. And anyway, prioritizing your health and taking the steps needed to ensure many more happy, healthy years is nothing to be ashamed of.
6. Secure peace of mind.
You could spend months or even years wondering if you’re at high risk of colorectal cancer. That feeling can be exacerbated by outside factors like personal or family history. A colonoscopy is the only way to know for sure. Instead of just assuming everything is fine and being blindsided by a diagnosis later, a colonoscopy will assuage your fears and eliminate minor issues before they become life-threatening problems.