SAINT LOUIS, Miss. (KFSN) -- Ninety-percent of all colon cancers are preventable, yet more than twenty-four million Americans who should have the recommended screening test will not do it. There are three things your doctor wants you to know that should change the way you think about colonoscopy.
Sixty-year-old Patricia Kamler always keeps up with routine maintenance. Whether it's her flower garden or her health. Although the idea of colonoscopy made her squirm.
She said, "It's like you're going to do what to me, how?"
During colonoscopy, doctors pass a thin scope through the colon to check for polyps, tiny growths that can eventually turn into cancers.
Gastroenterologist Matthew Ciorba says for starters, think of colonoscopy as a one-stop shop.
Matthew Ciorba, MD, gastroenterologist at Washington University in St. Louis, said, "The advantage is not only can you diagnose cancer at the early stages or the precursors of cancer, but you can also remove them at the time of the procedure."
Patricia said, "The prep is the bad part. Plain and simple."
Doctors say the prep necessary to completely clear the colon has vastly improved.
Doctor Ciorba explained, "Now there are some other options that can use about half that volume, so about a half a gallon of liquid."
Best of all, many patients are now "under" anesthesia.
"Most of the time, patients enter into a relative dream-like twilight zone level and when they wake up, they don't even remember the procedure was done," said Doctor Ciorba.
With a family history of colon cancer on both sides, Patricia got over her initial objections.
"They did find polyps the first several times that I had colonoscopies," she said.
All caught early, before they could become life-threatening.
"It's worse in your brain than in reality," Patricia told Ivanhoe.
Patients are most concerned about the risks of perforating the wall of the colon and reactions to the sedative. Doctor Ciorba says the risks are rare, and colonoscopy is still considered the gold standard for screening in the U.S.
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Colonoscopy: What your Doctor wants you to Know?