Colonoscopies Save Lives
By Zac Woodruff, RN BS
All month long, I’ve been talking with you about colon cancer, preventative screening, and my own experience with my first colonoscopy procedure.
Here’s a quick recap of the facts we’ve talked about this month:
• Colon cancer is the second leading cancer killer in the United States.
• In 2013 (the last year the CDC compiled statistics) – 136,119 people in the United States were diagnosed with colon cancer, and another 51,813 people in the United States died from it.
• From 2003 to 2012 in the United States, the incidence rate of nearly all demographics has decreased because more people are getting screened and having diagnostic tests performed.
• You should begin screening for colorectal cancer soon after turning 50, then continue getting screened at regular intervals. However, you may need to be tested earlier than 50, if you or a close relative have had colorectal polyps or colorectal cancer, you have an inflammatory bowel disease such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, or if you have certain genetic syndromes.
Now that we are nearly finished with the first month of 2017, it’s really time that you consider making an appointment with your doctor to get set up for your own colonoscopy. Don’t put it off any longer! It’s the new year, so decide right now to check your rear!
I know it may sound embarrassing, or the thought of the procedure is horrifying to you. I realize it’s an uncomfortable topic and one that is not easily discussed at the dinner table. I understand that it may be easier to avoid the topic and ignore your symptoms.
But the truth is, getting a colonoscopy when you are having certain symptoms or when you have reached the age of 50 (sooner if you have colon cancer in your immediate family), can literally SAVE YOUR LIFE.
COLONOSCOPIES SAVE LIVES. PERIOD.
Colorectal cancer almost always develops from precancerous polyps (abnormal growths) in the colon or rectum. Screening tests can find precancerous polyps, so that they can be removed before they turn into cancer. Screening tests can also find colorectal cancer early, when treatment works best (CDC, 2016).
I tried to be as open and honest this month with you all because I know we all need to inspire real conversation and dialogue on this topic. I’ve had a handful of really good conversations with some of my coworkers and patients over the past month, sharing my experience and knowledge with them.
I encourage you and your family to do the same and bring up this topic with each other. Perhaps your parents are around the age of 50, maybe you are. Maybe your spouse has had some rectal bleeding or you’ve had some major change in your bowel habits. Maybe your sister, or father, has already battled colon cancer. The point is, if there is a chance it could impact you, YOU NEED TO GET SCREENED.
AGAIN, I can’t say this enough to you. PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, talk to someone about getting screened. There is nothing to be embarrassed about. If anything, taking the steps to have a colonoscopy done is something to be proud of.
I’m proud I did, and I’m proud that I’ve been able to share my experience with you, here at WVMC.