A doctor’s take on common colonoscopy excuses

A doctor’s take on common colonoscopy excuses

Dr. Marc Kennedy, a gastroenterologist and hepatologist at Aurora Health Care, has heard it all when it comes to excuses for avoiding a colorectal cancer screening.

According to the American Cancer Society, colorectal cancer will account for over 53,000 deaths in the U.S. in 2024.

Colonoscopies detect and remove precancerous polyps which can help prevent the disease,” says Dr. Kennedy. “Colon cancer itself is curable with early detection. Timing is everything, and there’s no excuse for delaying your screening.”

Dr. Kennedy addresses excuses one by one:

  1. The preparation is too unpleasant and time consuming. Preparation has changed and now is not as inconvenient as it once was,” he says. “The recommended diet plan for the days before the screening is doable. In many cases, patients can be given just two liters of low volume preparation – half of what was used in the past to clean out the colon before a colonoscopy. Colon prep is absolutely necessary and important since it’s key to a thorough exam. Think of it as a small price to pay for a very large benefit.”
  2. My insurance won’t pay for it. Almost all insurance plans do pay for a colonoscopy, provided it is scheduled at appropriate intervals, which can vary based on risk.
  3. It’s for older people. Over the last decade, the incidence rate of colon cancer among younger people has significantly increased according to the ACS. “That’s why the most recent ACS recommendations call for screenings to start at age 45 or earlier. A colonoscopy is recommended every 10 years, but could be more frequent, based on the presence of family history,” he says. “Colonoscopy is usually not recommended after age 75.”
  4. I don’t have a family history of colorectal cancer. Of the 150,000 Americans who develop colorectal cancer each year, 85% of them do not have a family history of the disease. “Everyone, no matter what is known of family history, should take advantage of this highly effective screening,” says Dr. Kennedy.
  5. Colonoscopy is uncomfortable. “We now have our anesthesia teams involved to provide safe and effective sedation for these exams,” he says. “Patients are comfortable and monitored throughout the entire process, which takes only 30-60 minutes.”

Dr. Kennedy says once his patients get their screening over with, they are always glad they did it.

“Obviously, if an abnormality is detected, they are grateful for the early detection that can save their lives,” he says. “And if it’s an all-clear, then they are relieved to not have to worry about it for another 10 years.”

Learn your risk for colorectal cancer by taking our colorectal health assessment.

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  1. My excuse is that my bottom barely hits the seat and my bowel movements are shooting out. I I was to do a colonoscopy prep, I wouldn’t make it to the bathroom or even a commode next to me. My father and Aunt had the same problem as I do.

  2. Both parents had colon cancer, and about 15 years ago my colon was perforated during a routine colonoscopy, and I’m a healthy 80 year old. I’ve been advised by a gastroenterologist that there may be a weakness in the.colon and probably should not have another colonoscopy. Have there been any new developments to warrant a decision to have another colonoscopy?

  3. I was a lucky one. I put off my first colonolscopy until I was 68 – Big Mistake. My cancerous polup was 5cm – but luckily had not breached the colon wall. Had to have the first 16 inches of my colon removed – but was lucky because I needed not chemo or radiation afterwards. So far my follow-up colonoscopies have only had precancerous polups. The prep is NO BIG DEAL! I just follow my late mother’s advice. Do not stay near the bathroom, stay IN the bathroom. I just set up my electronic devices to keep me busy, and doze off between “episodes”. IT IS NOT A BIG DEAL!! Just do it and you won’t be sorry. Oh, Yes, I have no family history of colon cancer. It did not stop me from getting it!!

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About the Author

Annette Guye-Kordus
Annette Guye-Kordus

Annette Guye-Kordus is a public affairs coordinator with Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care.