Colonoscopy myths debunked

Kashif HaiderWith more than 100,000 new cases of colon cancer diagnosed each year nationwide, Hardin Memorial Health urges regular screenings for those at risk. Colonoscopies can reduce risk of cancer by up to 90 percent as precancerous polyps found during the procedure can be removed before becoming cancer.

“Many patients are fearful of colonoscopies and therefore put off scheduling their screenings, said Dr. Kashif Haider with HMH Medical Group – Digestive Health. “However, once patients understand the value of the test and the truth behind common myths associated with colonoscopies they will be more at ease.”

As March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month, HMH seeks to dispel colonoscopy myths to encourage more patients to overcome their fears and schedule their colonoscopy.

Common colonoscopy myths:

  • Myth: Patients don’t need the procedure unless they are presenting symptoms of colon cancer.
  • Truth: By the time symptoms are present, colon cancer may already be at an advanced stage. Screenings allow doctors to detect precancerous polyps, which can be removed before developing into cancer.
  • Myth: Colonoscopy preparation will be awful.
  • Truth: Preparation for a colonoscopy involves drinking a large amount of liquid to empty the colon. It may not be pleasant, but it will not be a horrible experience.
  • Myth: The procedure will be painful.
  • Truth: Patients are given a sedative and are likely to sleep through the whole procedure.
  • Myth: Colonoscopies are expensive.
  • Truth: In most cases colonoscopies are low to no cost and covered by insurance.
  • Myth: Women don’t need colonoscopies because they are less likely to get colon cancer.
  • Truth: Women may be less likely to get colon cancer, but males only have a slightly higher risk so women are also encouraged to have screenings.

HMH urges patients with average colon cancer risk to have a colonoscopy once every 10 years, starting at age 50. Click here for information on other risk factors or on screenings. For questions or to schedule a colonoscopy, contact your primary care provider or HMH.