We hear “colonoscopy” and our bodies clench. The anticipation of the bowel-emptying prep and a scope snaking through our colon evokes strong feelings among even the hardiest of us.
For Jonathan Vinson, M.D., a family physician with Providence Medical Group-The Plaza, getting screened for colorectal cancer is a “no-brainer.”
“The benefits dramatically outweigh the risks,” says Dr. Vinson, who regularly performs another type of screening test, the flexible sigmoidoscopy. “If we find colon cancer early, we cure it.
“Symptoms don’t show up until relatively late in the disease – at that point, we’ll probably be talking about palliative care.”
Getting over your fears gets you more than halfway to your colonoscopy appointment. Here are some common myths – and the truth, which may surprise you:
I can’t handle the prep. Have you ever lived through a stomach bug or food poisoning? Then, yes you can handle drinking a solution that will facilitate the emptying of your bowels. The good news? This is the worst part. A thorough cleansing allows your doctor to detect even the smallest polyps on your colon wall, growths that can turn into cancer. If you don’t like the taste of the prep solution, try adding Gatorade or lemon-lime soda to make it more palatable. (Always check first with your doctor.) One more thing: Don’t drink anything red or pink; the color may appear as blood in your colon and confuse the test results.
If you opt for a less invasive test — such as a virtual colonoscopy, capsule endoscopy, flexible sigmoidoscopy, air contrast barium enema or fecal occult blood test — and your provider finds something curious, guess what?
You'll need a colonoscopy.
And that means more prep. Those less invasive tests we just mentioned? All but one (fecal test) requires the same prep as a colonoscopy.
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