3 reasons to get a colonoscopy
The numbers are scary.
For those who are diagnosed with a late stage of colon cancer, the five-year survival rate is 12 percent, according to the American Cancer Society. In addition, of the 136,860 people diagnosed with the disease, nearly 50,310 will die.
However, many still do not schedule a colonoscopy when they turn 50.
Colon cancer is 100-percent preventable
Colon cancer starts in either the colon or the rectum.
Symptoms of the cancer include rectal bleeding, stomach pain, weakness, weight loss and low red blood cells. A colonoscopy can diagnose the cancer before the symptoms start.
“When you have breast cancer, the first cells they find in a biopsy are cancerous, but in a colonoscopy exam, when we find hybrid cells called ‘polyps,’ it is not cancerous,” says Dr. Hussain. “Once we remove them, you no longer have to worry about anything.”
Early detection pays off
The five-year survival rate for colon cancer found at the early stage is 90 percent, according to the Colon Cancer Alliance. The five-year survival rate for colon cancer found at the regional stage is 70 percent.
“If you are 50 and you haven’t had your colonoscopy, the risk of getting colon cancer is very high,” says Dr. Hussain. “But, whenever it is caught early, your survival rate skyrockets.”
The first one is free
Once a person reaches 50 years old, most routine, preventative screening colonoscopies are covered with no co-insurance or co-payment under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
“There are no financial implications, so there is no reason why you shouldn’t have one,” says Dr. Hussain. “Prevention is better than a cure.”
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health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Health Care sites, also including freelance or intern writers.