Submitted by Springfield Clinic Peoria
Spreading awareness about the importance of regular screenings for colorectal cancer is critical for the wellbeing of everyone. Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer type worldwide. In 2020, almost two million cases were diagnosed. It is the second leading cause of cancer death with almost one million deaths per year. This is despite the fact that effective screening techniques exist that could reduce the number of deaths from this disease.
The most common screening test for colorectal cancer is a colonoscopy. You know, that dreaded thing you are supposed to get when you turn 50? Well heads up: 45 is the new 50! And, if you have a family history of colorectal cancer or other risk factors, screening may need to start earlier than 45.
Before explaining what a colonoscopy is exactly, let’s answer the question everyone is thinking, even if they don’t ask.
Is getting a colonoscopy painful?
Well, good news. Getting a colonoscopy can be a simple and painless process. Most people can return to their normal activities the day after the procedure. In addition, the preparation for a colonoscopy has improved significantly in recent years, making it much easier for patients to undergo the procedure. So, there’s no reason for neither fear nor embarrassment. Just remember that colon cancer is highly treatable, but only when detected early. The earlier colorectal cancer is detected, the more effective treatment is likely to be, and the greater the chances are for a full recovery.
That said, a colonoscopy is a diagnostic procedure that allows doctors to examine the inside of the colon for any signs of disease or abnormalities. The test is performed using a flexible, lighted tube with a camera at the end, called a colonoscope, which is inserted into the rectum. Not only can a colonoscopy help detect colorectal cancer in its early stages, but it also gives your doctor the chance to remove precancerous growths, known as polyps, before they have a chance to develop into cancer. The saying is still true: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. The procedure is typically well tolerated and only takes about 30 minutes to an hour to complete.
But wait, there’s more! Beyond early detection of colorectal cancer, colonoscopies can also help diagnose other digestive disorders, such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. These conditions can cause discomfort, abdominal pain, and diarrhea. If left untreated, these can lead to other complications. By detecting these conditions early through a colonoscopy, your doctor can start treatment quickly and reduce the risk of more serious health problems.
In summary, colonoscopies are an important tool in reducing the risk of colorectal cancer and other digestive disorders. If you’re over the age of 45 or have a family history of colorectal cancer, talk to your doctor about when you should get your first colonoscopy. Early detection and treatment can save lives, so don’t wait—schedule your colonoscopy today.
Springfield Clinic Peoria is located at 1001 Main St. Suite 300 in Peoria. Call (309) 495-0200 to schedule your colonoscopy today.