Colon Cancer Awareness Month


You hear it all the time – after age 50, you should be getting a colonoscopy to screen for potentially cancerous polyps in your colon. It’s true; both men and women are recommended to get their first colonoscopy at age 50, and then every 10 years after that. Those who have a first-degree relative with colon cancer should be tested earlier, at age 40. During the month of March (Colon Cancer Awareness Month), we’re looking to shed some light on what a colonoscopy is and why it’s so important to just do it.

You may have heard that colonoscopy preparation is the most uncomfortable part of the procedure. It involves cleaning out the colon. To best examine your colon during the procedure, your doctor needs it to be clean. You’ll be given specific instructions on what to eat and drink in the days before your procedure.  One day before, you’ll be given a ‘bowel preparation’ drink which will assist in completely clearing out the colon.

During the colonoscopy, most patients do not experience pain; in fact, it usually only causes mild discomfort. A sedative will be administered to help you relax.  You’ll begin the exam on your side, knees drawn to chest. The procedure is done with the use of a tool called a colonoscope which has a camera and light at the end of it. Your doctor will insert this tool into your rectum and move it through your large intestine to look for polyps. Slight discomfort can occur when air is pumped into your colon. This is done to widen the colon and make the examination easier.  If colorectal polyps are found, they can be removed during the procedure with the colonoscope.

The total time needed for your colonoscopy is typically just 2-3 hours including check in, the procedure, and recovery afterwards. You will need a responsible adult to take you home after the procedure; you will not be allowed to take public transportation. After the procedure, your doctor will discuss with you if any polyps were discovered, removed, and how they will be tested.

This year alone, 53,000 Americans are predicted to die from colon cancer. It is the third leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States, and it is most easily prevented when caught early. The best way to do this is through a colonoscopy.

The Centers for Gastroenterology has been the experts in gastrointestinal care for over 40 years in northern Colorado. We are located in Fort Collins, Greeley, and Loveland. Call 970-207-9773 to schedule your appointment now. Learn more about our doctors and procedures at www.digestive-health.org.