Why get a colonoscopy?

By Mary Rains

Mille Lacs Health System

Why get a colonoscopy? Mille Lacs Health System is urging patients to get educated and get screened, especially this March, which in National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. The bad news: Of cancers affecting men and women, it’s the second leading cancer killer in the country. The good news: If detected early, it’s 90% treatable and 90% preventable. Those are pretty good numbers. The key word, however, is “early.”

The risk increases with age. All adults over the age of 50 are at risk for colorectal cancer and should be screened for polyps and cancer. By finding and removing precancerous polyps that can develop into cancer, the disease can be stopped before it ever starts. In addition, screening for colon cancer can detect it early when it is most curable.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, you don’t always experience symptoms. So, if you’re putting it off because you feel nothing is wrong, that may be a bad idea. Also, if you have any of the known risk factors (relatives who’ve had colon cancer; or if you have IBD, Crohn’s disease, or ulcerative colitis) you should talk to your provider about getting screened.

Approximately 5%, or 1 in 20, Americans will be diagnosed with cancer of the colon or rectum in their lifetime. Death rates increase with age, and also with how far advanced the cancer is when first detected.

The American Cancer Society has identified colorectal cancer as a major priority because the application of existing knowledge has such great potential to prevent cancer, diminish suffering, and save lives.

Many insurance plans cover the cost of screening, but to be sure, please talk with your insurance company about the details.

A colonoscopy can be one of the best things you ever do for yourself. The question isn’t why get one, it’s … why not? See your healthcare provider soon to talk about this important and life-saving test, which can be done at MLHS, close to home.