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3 Myths About Colon Cancer Screening

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Colorectal cancer is the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States. The good news is, when detected at an early stage, the chance of cure is very high. And the best way to catch colorectal cancer early is through regular screenings.

The bad news is that some commonly believed myths discourage some people from receiving the screenings they need.

So, here are three of the top myths – followed by the facts.

1. Preparing for a colonoscopy is awful.

To prepare for a colonoscopy, your colon needs to be cleared. This is done by drinking a laxative solution and then letting nature take its course for about a day or so before the procedure. While this might not be your favorite way to spend a day, most people tolerate this prep extremely well and say it wasn’t as bad as they thought!

If you have any concerns or experience uncomfortable GI symptoms, you can always talk with your provider about slowing the preparation process down. There are also several options when it comes to preps, and we will help you choose what’s best for your body.

2. Colonoscopy is awkward and painful.

Another big misconception is that colonoscopies are painful. At St. Luke’s, we offer the option of monitored anesthesia (sedation). This means our patients are not aware of the procedure or any discomfort.

You do have the option of foregoing sedation, if you wish. In these cases, the procedure is most often tolerated well with only minor discomfort or bloating.

3. Colonoscopy is the only screening option.

Colorectal cancer often starts as a polyp on the inner lining of the colon or rectum, and colonoscopy is the only test that can both detect and remove polyps. For this reason, it’s usually the preferred test.

There are also a few alternatives. And I always say: the best test is the one that gets done! Any testing is better than none. Stool-based tests (such as Cologuard®) can be performed annually or every few years. If blood or DNA changes are detected, then a colonoscopy needs to be performed to follow up on those results.

Colon cancer screening in Duluth

In the early stages, colorectal cancer is usually asymptomatic. That’s why it’s important to begin screening at age 45 for people in the average risk category. However, if you have a family history of colorectal cancer, you may need to start earlier. Talk to your doctor about when you should start screening.

Also talk to your doctor if you ever experience the following:

  • Blood in the stool
  • A change in bowel habits (e.g., regular diarrhea or constipation)
  • A change in stool size, shape or consistency
  • Abdominal pain
  • Unexpected weight loss

This service does not require a referral. Schedule an appointment today.