If you recognize Elvis, that means you are over 50 years old. And guess what you need to do, instead of talking with your friends and reminiscing about “the good old days”? You need to be talking to your doctor about having a colonoscopy – it could save your life! Yes, most people are not jumping up and down at the thought of having a colonoscopy and will avoid at all cost, having this conversation with their doctor. However, not having the conversation could possibly be a fatal mistake. It is important to know that among cancers that affect both men and women, colorectal cancer is the second leading cancer killer in the U.S. The good news is, if everyone aged 50 years or older had regular screening tests, at least 60% of deaths from this cancer could be avoided.
Education and screenings is key to promoting good health and reducing risk of developing colorectal cancer. So…. lets switch your thoughts from poodle skirts, sock hops, the “57” Chevy with those iconic tailfins, and the censored hips of Elvis, to thoughts of calling your doctor to discuss colorectal cancer screening.
First, what is Colorectal Cancer?
Colorectal cancer is cancer that occurs in the colon or rectum. The colon is described as either the large intestine or large bowel.
Who Gets Colorectal Cancer?
Colorectal cancer is most often found in both men and women 50 years of age or older. If you fall in this category or know family or friends that do, then it’s time for a colonoscopy screening.
Am I at High Risk?
There are several different considerations that may put you at risk for colorectal disease. Risk may be higher than average if you or a close relative have had colorectal polyps or colorectal cancer. Additionally, a condition called inflammatory bowel disease or a genetic syndrome such as familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) or hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer may increase your risk. If you have a history of any of these conditions then you should speak with your doctor about having earlier or more frequent screening tests for colorectal cancer.
What are the Symptoms of Colorectal Cancer?
The unnerving truth is people could have polyps or colorectal cancer and not know. People who have polyps or colorectal cancer don’t always have symptoms, especially at first. If there are symptoms, they may include:
• Blood in or on your stool (bowel movement).
• Stomach aches, pains, or cramps that
don’t go away.
• Losing weight and you don’t know why. If you have any of these symptoms, talk to your doctor. These symptoms may be caused by something other than cancer. However, the only way to know what is causing them is to see your doctor.
Types of Screening Tests
Several different screening tests can be used to find polyps or colorectal cancer. Each can be used alone, or sometimes in combination with each other. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends colorectal cancer screening for men and women aged 50–75 using high-sensitivity fecal occult blood testing (FOBT), sigmoidoscopy, or colonoscopy. Talk to your doctor about which test or tests are right for you. The decision to be screened after age 75 should be made on an individual basis. If you are older than 75, ask your doctor if you should
Will my insurance cover a colonoscopy?
Many insurance plans and Medicare help pay for colorectal cancer screening tests. Check with your plan to find out which tests are covered for you.
Questions to ask your doctor:
I just turned 50 years old. Should I get a colonoscopy?
I don’t have any family history of colorectal cancer or of colorectal polyps. Should I still be screened?
Or … My medical history and/or my family medical history put me at an increased risk for colorectal cancer; should I be screened at a younger age and more often?
I understand there are a number of screening tests available; would you tell me about each of these tests and the risks and benefits?
I don’t know which screening test is appropriate for me now. Which test do you recommend and why?
Will you perform the test? If not,
Will I be awake or asleep during the test?
What will happen during the test?
Will the test be uncomfortable?
How will I learn the results of the test?
What kind of follow-up care will I need if the tests show a problem?
If the tests show nothing wrong, when should I be tested again?
If polyps are found, why is it important to remove them?
What is the cost of these tests? Will my insurance cover the cost?
Don’t put off the dreaded conversation any longer. Talk with your doctor about getting screened for colorectal cancer. Do what you can today to create future cherished memories with your family
and friends, like those past happy days
of the 50s.