Colorectal cancer affects both men and women, but you might be asking why I need a colonoscopy and when should I schedule it.
A colonoscopy is the best way to detect colorectal cancer and can even reduce your risk by up to 60%. Some people think colorectal cancer is a men’s disease, but women are just as much at risk.
Some people are scared to have colonoscopies so they avoid it. But a colon screening is usually painless. The preparation for the test can be unpleasant, but that is over pretty quickly. Compared with dealing with cancer, the process is pretty simple and tolerable.
As with many cancers, when found early colorectal cancer is treatable and can often be cured. During a colonoscopy, pre-cancerous polyps can be found and removed, preventing the disease from developing.
What to expect:
- In order for the doctor to see your colon clearly, you’ll need to clean it out first. Your doctor provides instructions. During the process you’ll need to stay close to a bathroom. Some people feel this is the worst part of the procedure.
- Directly before your procedure, you will be given a sedative through an IV. This will make you sleepy. Most people do not feel anything or remember the test.
- Since you have been sedated, you will need someone to drive you home. You may still feel sleepy, but this is likely the only side effect after the procedure. Some people experience cramping or bloating and gas.
When to get a colonoscopy:
- The American Cancer Society recommends people of average risk begin screening at age 50. After you initial screening, most people will not need another colonoscopy for 10 years. You and your doctor will decide the appropriate screening schedule for you.
- African-Americans have a higher risk of developing colon cancer and should begin screenings at the age of 45.