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Let's face it: No one stands around the water cooler at work talking about colon health and bowel habits. (If you do, a primer on social skills may be in the offing.)
But if you're among the one in three adults ages 50 to 75 who are not getting tested for colorectal cancer as recommended, it's time to overcome your excuses. Scott Pinchot, MD, a general surgeon at Northwest Community Hospital, offers four reasons to quit putting off that colonoscopy—plus everyday habits to help keep all systems go.
Dr. Pinchot calls colonoscopy the "gold standard" because it is the only colorectal cancer screening that looks for cancer and prevents cancer. "Colonoscopy gives us a great look at the lining of the colon, which is where pre-cancerous growths called polyps develop. We can remove these during colonoscopy," he says.
Nine in 10 people live five or more years when colorectal cancer is found early. Yet colon cancer is still the No. 2 cancer killer of men and women. That means not enough people are getting screened. "Colonoscopy gives us a chance to identify and treat lesions and cancers before they become problematic and life-threatening," Dr. Pinchot says, recommending screening beginning at age 50.
You've heard the stories. The fasting, the unpalatable prep fluid, and the relentless trips to the bathroom. But today's colonoscopy-prep is a lot easier than you think. "We have a lot of different colon preps today that are more tolerable and much less disruptive to your lifestyle," Dr. Pinchot says.
"In patients who have bowel symptoms—changes that seem abnormal—colonoscopy can detect inflammation, infection or other causes," he says. Everyday ifestyle changes can help. Dr. Pinchot recommends: