3 reasons to get a colonoscopy

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.

Dr. Sakhie Hussain, medical director of the Endoscopy Center at Advocate Trinity Hospital in Chicago, offers three reasons why the routine screening saves lives.

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

Colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in the U.S. behind lung cancer.

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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  1. I’ve been wondering if it would be necessary to get a colonoscopy. I didn’t realize that colon cancer was 100% preventable! I’ll make sure I get that done sooner rather than later. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Thanks for this helpful post on when to get a colonoscopy. I didn’t know that colon cancer is 100% preventable. I imagine that if you catch it early it can only be easier. I think that alone is a great reason to get a colonoscopy. I didn’t know that you could get a free colonoscopy after 50 years old from most insurance companies. Thanks for the help!

  3. I have been telling my husband for a few years now that he should get a colon cancer screening, but he just doesn’t seem to realize how important it is. I like how you point out here that colon cancer is 100-percent preventable, and can be detected very early through proper screening. I imagine that my husband will feel more comfortable with it if we find a reputable doctor who can explain these things to him. I’ll have to forward this to him tonight.

  4. It’s really unfortunate that colon cancer is the second leader cause of cancer related deaths in the United States. My father passed away from colon cancer when I was younger. Now my doctor says I should get colonoscopies more often than other people so that they can catch any sign of cancer early on.

  5. Troy Blackburn March 2, 2017 at 11:55 am · Reply

    That’s very interesting that colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in the U.S. behind lung cancer. I’ve heard, too, that colon cancer can only be detected via a colonoscopy and, although they can be uncomfortable, they can save your life. I’ll be sure to share this information with my father who is getting older and hasn’t ever had a colonoscopy.

  6. David Nightingale February 6, 2018 at 2:52 am · Reply

    My dad died of colon cancer so i get scoped every 5 years. Just got my most recent all-clear the other day! I know of people in their 30’s who have recently been diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer.
    Theres no reason to not go every 5 years from age 30, regardless of family history. Yes: The cleanout beforehand is a bit crap (pun intended), NO: The procedure is not unpleasant because you sleep right through it!

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health enews Staff
health enews Staff

health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Aurora Health sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.