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Sharp Health News

Fear no colonoscopy (infographic)

March 16, 2017

Angst. Panic. Dread. If you're worried about getting your first colonoscopy, you're not alone. In fact, only 59 percent of people over 50 (the age a screening is recommended) report getting one.

But this routine exam is much easier than people think, and the results could save your life. Here's why it's time to book that appointment.

Fear no colonoscopy (infographic). For those new to it, a colonoscopy can seem scary. But this routine exam is easier than you think. And most importantly, it could save your life. A colonoscopy allows your doctor to look at the inner lining of your large intestine. It helps your doctor screen for cancer or precancerous growths in the colon or rectum. Colonoscopies are not scary, but the following stats are: Colorectal cancer is the fourth most commonly diagnosed cancer after breast, lung and prostate cancer. It is the second leading cause of cancer deaths. In 2017, it is estimated 155,870 people will die from lung and bronchus cancer, 50,260 people will die from colorectal cancer and 43,090 people will die from pancreatic cancer. (Source: American Cancer Society) Only 59% of people aged 50 or older – for whom screening is recommended – reported getting screened according to the National Health Interview Survey. Colon cancer is preventable and potentially curable if detected early, Dr. Ananthram Reddy, a board-certified gastroenterologist affiliated with Sharp Grossmont Hospital. Screening 80 percent of the population could prevent over 200,000 deaths a year. Although there are several tests available for screening, a colonoscopy is an integral part of early detection of colon cancer. The best screening test is the one that gets done. Here’s what to expect at your screening: Step 1: Prep. This is the most important step. Your doctor will require that you only consume a diet of clear liquids, such as sports drinks and broth for 24 hours. In advance of the procedure, your doctor will most likely prescribe a laxative drinking solution that will make you – you know – go. The most commonly prescribed regimen includes two doses of the laxative, the second to be given about five hours before the procedure. Step 2: Sedate. You’ll lie on your side on the exam table for the screening. But you’ll be comfortably sedated the whole time. In fact, most people don’t even remember it. Step 3: Screen. For 20 to 30 minutes, your doctor will use a small, tube-like instrument to view your colon. Most precancerous lesions will be removed at this time. Step 4: Go home. You will need someone to drive you home, but you can eat once you get there. The next day you can get right back to your regular routine.

View the printable version of this infographic.

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