Heartland Clinic Partners

Gastroenterology Consultants Heartland Center for Motility Valley View Pain Center Heartland ENT Regional SurgiCenter Valley View Anesthesia Midwest Clinical Research Associates Valley Laboratories

Dispelling Colonoscopy Myths

Article Date: February 20, 2012
Partner Site:

Written by Dr. Arvind Movva, Gastroenterology Consultants

Colorectal cancer is the third most common type of non-skin cancer in both men and women and is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States. Although the rate of new colorectal cancer cases and deaths is decreasing due to increased screening with colonoscopy, more than 140,000 new cases will be diagnosed and more than 51,000 people will die from the disease in the United States during 2012. This doesn’t have to be! If everyone aged 50 and older has a screening test, called a colonoscopy, as many as 90% of deaths from colorectal cancer could be prevented.

Have you had YOUR colonoscopy? No? What’s holding you back? Read on to see some of the most common concerns and why they shouldn’t keep you from scheduling your colorectal screening.

I don’t think I need one.
This assumption is simply false. 6% of Americans get colon cancer (3 cancers in the next 50 people you see), and only 1 in 10 had a family history of colorectal cancer. Symptoms of colorectal cancer typically don’t appear until the later stages. In fact, patients diagnosed with colorectal cancer commonly show no symptoms at all. Don’t wait until you pass blood or have changes in the shape or consistency of your bowel movements to schedule your screening.

I'm afraid of the pain.
If you're worried about feeling pain during such a sensitive procedure, you're not alone. But it may help you to know that when you have your colonoscopy, you'll be given short-term anesthesia which prevents you from sensing any pain.

I'm too embarrassed to have doctors and nurses looking around down there.
Gastroenterologists and their medical teams understand that people may be self-conscious so they behave professionally and respectfully toward patients. The procedure will be done in a private room to ensure that only a few people will see you. In addition, the anesthesia given to you before the procedure will help you relax and feel less self-conscious.

I don't know if I can handle the preparation for a colonoscopy.
Because the colon needs to be completely empty for a colonoscopy, you will need to carefully follow your Gastroenterologist’s preparation instructions in order to get ready for the procedure. Although no one would describe the preparation as pleasant, there are new ways to clean the colon which may even allow a patient to eat a normal diet until after dinner the day before the procedure. Talk to your doctor about which preparation method is right for you.

I'm worried about what will happen if the doctor finds something.
Some people are fearful of having a colonoscopy because they would rather not know if something is wrong. But finding and removing polyps before they turn into cancer is much better than forgoing a colonoscopy and having the polyps silently grow, become malignant and spread to other parts of the body.

Every March brings with it Colon Cancer Awareness Month and reminds us that screening allows colorectal cancers to be found earlier when the disease is easier to cure. As a result, there are now more than 1 million survivors of colorectal cancer in the United States. Give yourself the gift of another birthday ― call a Gastroenterologist and schedule your screening colonoscopy today!

Back to all articles.