There is nothing glamorous about having a colonoscopy. But the fact is it could save your life! A screening colonoscopy is the preferred way to detect colorectal cancer early and treat it effectively, but misconceptions continually prevent people from scheduling this painless procedure. So, Silver Cross Hospital in New Lenox would like to set the record straight and dispel those myths once and for all.
Myth #1: “I’m not at risk for colon cancer.”
Fact: While certain genetic traits and ethnic backgrounds increase risk factors for colorectal as well as other types of cancers, but the truth is everyone has some risk of developing the disease. Dr. Reza Gamagami, colorectal cancer specialist at Silver Cross Hospital, recommends a colonoscopy beginning at age 50, or earlier if you have a personal or family history of the disease. Other risk factors include inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome, diabetes, smoking and alcohol consumption.
Myth # 2: “Colon cancer only affects men.”
Fact: Colon cancer affects both men and women. Each year, about 140,000 Americans are diagnosed with colorectal cancer, and more than 50,000 die from it—over half are women! Colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States.
Myth #3: “I don’t have any symptoms, so I don’t need a colonoscopy.”
Colorectal cancer is often dubbed “the silent killer” because it usually presents no symptoms. Colonoscopies are effective because they can detect cancer in polyps long before they become an issue. Symptoms like blood in the stool, anemia and stomach pain are typically only present when the cancer has taken hold. Some individuals with certain gastrointestinal diseases, such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease (inflammatory bowel disease), may have a risk of developing colon cancer earlier than age 50 and should talk to their physician about regular colonoscopy screening starting at an age earlier than 50 years.
“Please don’t wait to schedule your colonoscopy,” said Dr. Gamagami. “The vast majority of colon cancers are found in patients who did not have any pain or other symptoms.”
Myth #4: “A colonoscopy isn’t accurate.”
Fact: Advances in technology have greatly improved the diagnostic capabilities of colonoscopies as well as the overall patient experience, according to Dr. Gamagami. They are among the best, safest ways to detect the presence of pre-cancerous growths.
Myth #5: “I won’t be able to handle the prep.”
Fact: It’s no secret that preparing for a colonoscopy is often the worst part of it. You will be on laxatives for at least a day prior to the procedure and you’ll need to stay close to a bathroom. Remember, the cleaner your colon, the better the physician can detect polyps, which is, after all, why you’re there.
Myth #6: “Colonoscopies are painful.”
Fact: Prior to the procedure, patients are given a combination of a narcotic and sedative called “conscious sedation.” Patients actually sleep through the procedure so they don’t feel any discomfort. If a doctor does find a polyp, they can usually remove it during the procedure.
Myth #7: “Colorectal cancer can’t be prevented, so the test is not necessary.”
Fact: Colorectal cancer is among the most preventable forms of cancer. Through colonoscopy, polyps and other pre-cancerous conditions of the colon are easily detected and can be treated, resulting in significantly better outcomes for patients. Furthermore. it is easy to detect in its pre-cancerous stages through screening methods like colonoscopies. Because it is such a slow growing cancer, if a patient’s initial colonoscopy is negative, they typically usually won’t need one for another decade, although those with genetic or other risk factors may require one more frequently.
Myth #8: “If cancer is detected, it may not be curable.”
Fact: Colon cancer is preventable and highly treatable when caught at an early stage. People who are diagnosed early have over a 90 percent chance of surviving. There are highly effective surgical options for colon cancer patients, and Silver Cross Hospital is a leader is the area making these options available to patients.
Silver Cross has been designated as part of an elite group of nationally recognized General Surgery Epicenters due to the demonstrated excellence of Dr. Gamagami as an educator for general colorectal robotic surgery. Dr. Gamagami performs complicated abdominal procedures laparoscopically through just a few small incisions using the da Vinci robot. At Silver Cross Hospital, we have performed twice as minimally invasive colon resections to cure colon cancer than any other local community hospital. According to Dr. Gamagami, 85% of his patients benefit from this new technology as compared to less than 10% in the Chicago metropolitan area.
Myth #9: “When you have a colonoscopy, you will have to be out of work for several days.”
Fact: The actual procedure only takes about 30 to 60 minutes. So, relatively short, but you must take into account arrival time, prep time and post-procedure time. Most patients miss only one full day of work.
Myth #10: “I can’t afford to have a colonoscopy.”
Fact: You can’t afford not to have one. It could save your life. Many insurance plans have a screening colonoscopy benefit for members age 50 or over. Medicare and Medicaid cover a screening colonoscopy at 100 percent if you are age 50 or over and haven’t had the test in the last 10 years.
And if de-bunking all these myths wasn’t enough, Gatto’s Restaurant is giving a $20 gift certificate to everyone who has a screening colonoscopy at Silver Cross Hospital before Sept. 30, 2015. Don’t wait any longer. Click here or call 1-888-660-HEAL (4325) for a free referral to a physician who performs colonoscopies and tell them Gatto’s sent you.