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Published on March 02, 2017

doctor talking to older patient

Five Reasons Colonoscopy Isn’t as Bad as You Think. Really.

So, you’re turning 45 and your doctor said it’s time for a colonoscopy.

You’re avoiding making the appointment aren’t you? Did you know that people who do colon screenings have a 90% reduced risk of developing colon cancer? That number alone should get you on the phone.

Still worried? Our doctors at Avera are skilled at providing colonoscopy screenings and will put you at ease. Christopher Hurley, MD, with Avera Medical Group Gastroenterology, said not only is the screening important to cancer prevention, it also isn’t as bad as people fear.

“People have a misunderstanding of what colonoscopy is,” Hurley said. “The lights are down, you get a little medication, have a nice nap and then it’s over. The more we explain to patients what’s involved and how important it is for their health, the more willing they are to do it.”

Here’s why:

  • The screening only takes about 30 minutes. You’ll be in the outpatient hospital longer, typically three hours or less due to preparation before the procedure and recovery time. But the actual screening takes a fraction of that.
  • Polyps are often removed during the colonoscopy and then you’re done. Your doctor can send the removed polyps for further testing to ensure they are not cancerous.
  • You won’t need one that often. Starting at age 45, it’s recommended you get a colonoscopy every 10 years. This will in most cases detect polyps before they have a chance to become malignant. Depending on family history and how often polyps are detected, your doctor may recommend more frequent screenings or screenings starting at an earlier age.
  • You’ll be asleep. This isn’t mandatory but it’s the common choice to make you sleepy and relaxed during the procedure. You’ll also be covered. Doctors in the room are very respectful of your privacy and are focused on the monitor, not the patient.
  • It could save your life. Regular colonoscopy can ensure polyps are removed before they turn into cancer, or that cancer is detected earlier. One in 20 people will develop colon cancer within their lifetime but it is one of the most treatable cancers if caught early. On average, 25% of patients will have precancerous polyps that can be removed during the colonoscopy — the best way to prevent cancer from developing.

Avera provides colonoscopy screenings throughout the region; you can easily find a provider near you.

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