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The case for colonoscopy: 5 reasons you don’t want to miss your next colon cancer screening

October 01, 2019
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If you’re like many adults, the word “colonoscopy” brings to mind nerve-wracking—and embarrassing—visions of the preparation process. Not to mention the actual procedure—a doctor will put what where? Why would anybody put themselves through all that?

Here’s the unexpected truth about colonoscopy: It’s not that bad. And here’s the really great fact about colonoscopy: It’s the best way to catch the earliest signs of colon and rectal cancers. It’s literally a life-saving procedure. (Just ask, Lisa Marie Berthel, who had a colonoscopy at Baystate Health.)

Need more reasons to ask your doctor about your colorectal cancer screening? Here are five:

  1. Compared to at-home colon cancer screening options, including Cologuard and the FIT, colonoscopies are better at finding cancer and precancer cells.
  2. Unlike with the alternatives, polyps are removed during a colonoscopy. ” These polyps can contain suspicious pre-cancer or cancerous cells, which are removed during the procedure. This can mean that we don’t need to do another procedure or surgery” explains Dr. Ira Schmelkin, gastroenterologist at Baystate Health.
  3. Depending on your personal medical history, colonoscopies are recommended only every 10 years—compared to every year or every three years for other colon cancer tests. "It’s important to talk with your doctor about your personal screening schedule. People who have an average risk for colorectal cancer typically begin colonoscopies at age 50. People with a higher risk may need to start earlier or have more frequent screenings," Dr. Schmelkin said.
  4. Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in U.S. adults. Colonoscopies can spot the earliest signs of cancer, when it is easier to effectively treat.
  5. While some people find preparation for colonoscopies unpleasant, most are surprised to find it’s not that bad. Plus, the actual procedure typically takes less than 30 minutes.

At Baystate Health, we provide all of the latest screening and treatment options for cancer. Our team of specialists is well-known for delivering the very best care in western Massachusetts.

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