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COLON CANCER SCREENING SAVES LIVES

Isn�t colorectal cancer predominantly a man�s disease?
No. In fact, colorectal cancer is the third-leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States. An estimated 129,400 men and women will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer this year alone. Nearly 26,000 women and 25,000 men die annually from the disease.

What are some of the symptoms of colorectal cancer?
  • A change in bowel habits
  • Blood in the stool
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Stools that are narrower than usual
  • Abdominal pains
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Feeling very tired
  • Vomiting
  • Family history of colorectal cancer
Do I have to have symptoms to be screened for colorectal cancer?
No. Beginning at age 50, all men and women should be screened for colorectal cancer even if you are not experiencing any problems or symptoms. You may need to start earlier if you have a close relative with colorectal cancer or polyps. African Americans and people of Eastern European Jewish descent are more frequently diagnosed with colon cancer and may need to be screened prior to age 50.

What tests detect colon polyps?
The tests that find polyps and cancer are a flexible sigmoidoscopy every 5 years, colonoscopy every 10 years, or virtual colonoscopy (CT colonography) every 5 years.

A sigmoidoscopy allows the doctor to see the last portion of the colon, the rectum, and anus. It cannot detect polyps further up and does not require sedation.

A virtual colonoscopy is a CT scan test used to look for abnormalities of the large intestine. It does not require sedation, but does require the same bowel prep as a colonoscopy. The CT may not detect small polyps and your doctor cannot remove any polyps found. A colonoscopy will need to be scheduled to remove polyps. Virtual colonoscopy is not currently covered by Medicare and most insurance companies as an initial screening test.

Colonoscopy is the current gold standard for colon cancer screening. We recommend a colonoscopy, starting at age 50, as the best test for screening in healthy individuals, with no family history.

What is a colonoscopy?
A colonoscopy is the visual examination of the large intestine (colon), using a long, thin, flexible tube, the thickness of your finger, called a colonoscope, which is inserted into the rectum. It allows your physician to make a diagnosis and obtain a tissue sample or remove pre-cancerous growths (polyps).

To view a colonoscopy video, click here.

Am I awake during the colonoscopy?
A mild sedative is given before the procedure and most patients do not remember anything about the procedure. If needed, you can be set up for �Total Intravenous Anesthesia� that allows for even deeper sedation.

I have to drink a gallon of laxative to prepare for the procedure?
No. Over the last several years colonoscopy preparations, to clean out the colon the day before the procedure, have changed. There are easier preps that involve drinking 8 glasses of liquid with the medicine dissolved in it or taking a series of laxative pills. Based on your age and medical conditions, you and your doctor can decide which is the best prep for you.

I am too embarrassed to undergo a colonoscopy!
Don�t worry. Many people feel uncomfortable about obtaining a colonoscopy. We are aware of this and our care team takes steps to make sure you have a comfortable experience and have privacy during your procedure. If you want, you may even request the gastroenterologist of your choice for your procedure. If your insurance company requires a referral, please inform your doctor.

How can I reduce my risk of colorectal cancer?
Adopting a healthy lifestyle can help reduce your risks of developing polyps. Eating a healthy high fiber diet and reducing your fat intake to less than 20 to 35 percent of total calories each day, eating less red meat, and avoiding excessive alcohol intake can help. Maintaining a healthy weight with daily exercise and avoiding smoking can decrease your risk as well. Also, make sure you get enough calcium and folate in your diet.

The most important action you can take to decrease your risk of dying from colon cancer is to get screened.

How much will it cost?
The cost of colonoscopy screening varies based upon your healthcare plan. We can assist with pre-certification approval and payment plan options.

How do I schedule a colonoscopy for myself or a family member?
Talk to your doctor about getting screened or call DigestiveCare at 937.320.5050 for more information.