The Benefits of Colonoscopy [Prevent Colon Cancer]
By Michael Kirsch, MD, Center for Digestive Health and Endoscopy Center
Our gastroenterology practice does colonoscopies every day. We are passionate about preventing colon cancer, which is a preventable disease. Moreover, nearly every adult who has their eyes and ears open knows that age 50, they need to submit to a thorough examination of their colon, also known as the large bowel. The benefits of colonoscopy are well known – it’s safe, accurate and only takes a few minutes. In our office, we have a certified nurse anesthetist on site, which guarantees that the procedures are entirely pain free.
In past 48 hours of this writing, two preventable occurrences were discovered. Yesterday, I detected a huge colon cancer in a man who was hospitalized with bowel issues. He had undergone surgery for colon cancer nearly 20 years ago, and he never had a subsequent colonoscopy, as his doctors had repeatedly recommended. The first colonoscopy since his surgery was the one I did yesterday. He will now face major surgery that could have and should have been prevented.
Today, in my office, I met a woman in her 50’s who had never had a screening colonoscopy performed. She has rectal bleeding several times each week over several years. Her strategy was OperationIGNORE, which is not the approach that most gastroenterologists would countenance. I found a very large rectal lesion, which I removed as best I could. Even if the lesion proves to be benign, she may still need surgical treatment, as I am uncertain if my colonoscopy resection alone will be sufficient.
There is so much in life that we cannot control; but, there is also much that we can influence. We may not be able to halt a natural disaster or prevent a corporate downsizing, but we can to a great extent protect our health. Why would we leave something so precious to chance?
Here are a few simple tips to tilt the odds in your favor.
Prevent disease. Is there a good reason why you are late on your mammogram?
Take your medicine as prescribed. Yes, I have had patients who actually stopped taking blood pressure medicines because “their blood pressures are always normal.”
Do you still need all of your medications? Many patients have been on certain medicines for so long, that they can’t even remember why they were originally prescribed. Just because you are taking a pill today, doesn’t mean you have to swallow it for your whole life. Why risk side effects?
Don’t be a stranger to your doctor. Make regular appointments to assure that you are using all tools available to stay well. Find out about new medical advances.
Your large bowel shouldn’t be a hermit. Your colon should be visited from time to time by a highly trained gastroenterologist who shares your mission to keep you well.
Come and talk to us about our health strategy for you, which we call OperationLIVEWELL. As gastroenterologists, we know that there is ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ for you. Let us show you a demonstration.
Bad judgment in medicine, and in life, can be unforgiving. And, good judgment can save your life.