Experts debunk 7 colonoscopy myths
One in 23 people will get colon cancer in their lifetime and getting a colonoscopy is key in preventing it. Several experts debunked common myths about colonoscopies, a treatment that can help prevent colon cancer and deaths from this common condition. The best way to know if a colonoscopy is right for you is to talk to your doctor.
Here are some of the most common myths — and truths — about colonoscopies as explained by Dr. Faris M. Murad, Dr. Kevin Liebovich and Dr. Jennifer Spanier-Stiasny, gastroenterology experts at Advocate Health Care.
Myth: I don’t want a colonoscopy because I have heard it is painful.
Truth: Patients undergoing colonoscopy are sedated and should feel no pain during the procedure. It is common to feel bloated and gassy after the exam.
Myth: I don’t want a colonoscopy because of the cost.
Truth: The Affordable Care Act mandates that all screening colonoscopies are fully covered by insurance beginning at age 50 for everyone with average risk. If you have a family history of colon or rectal cancer, talk to your doctor about whether you might benefit from earlier or more frequent screenings.
Myth: I don’t want a colonoscopy because I am afraid of the results.
Truth: The purpose of colonoscopy is to prevent colon cancer by removing asymptomatic precancerous polyps. As long as patients have no symptoms, this is a preventative exam and patients should not fear the results.
Myth: I don’t want a colonoscopy because I hear stool tests are easier.
Truth: Stool tests are only partially effective at screening for colon cancer and if abnormal, would results in a diagnostic colonoscopy. Colonoscopy is not only more accurate than stool tests, but is also the only way of preventing colon cancer
Myth: White men are most at-risk for colon cancer, so I don’t need to get one.
Truth: Wrong. Women get colon cancer almost as much as men and black Americans actually have a higher rate of colon cancer. Colon cancer is the 2nd deadliest cancer in the U.S., it is more than 90% preventable. Getting screened is your best chance to catch it early.
Myth: I don’t want a colonoscopy because the prep drink is unpleasant to drink.
Truth: The good news is that we have prep drinks that are lower in volume and more palatable.
Myth: I don’t want a colonoscopy because it is humiliating.
Truth: Thinking about colonoscopy might be unpleasant, but you can expect a private and respectful experience. Your care team will make you as comfortable as possible. As for the exam itself, it’s often done during so-called “twilight sleep,” or conscious sedation. With twilight sleep, 99% of patients are comfortable during the exam. Most people find that is much more pleasant than ever expected. Many people don’t even remember it all afterwards.
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health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Aurora Health sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.