It's Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. Here's What You Need to Know about Having a Colonoscopy

Cancer's going down.

According to the American Cancer Society, more than 150,000 Americans will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer in 2020. Though colorectal screenings are on the rise in the United States based on data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 30% of Americans between the ages of 50 and 75 still skip their colon cancer screenings.


Given that March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, our gastroenterology team at GastroMed in Miami, Florida wants you to know everything there is to know about the importance of getting a colonoscopy so you won’t skip your screening. 

The basics of a colonoscopy

With a colonoscopy, we closely examine the lining of your large intestine for abnormalities using a special tool called a colonoscope. This tool is equipped with a lens and light that sends visual images of your rectum and colon to a computer screen. 


You may quiver at the thought of having to get a colonoscopy, but the test is well-tolerated,  relatively painless, and usually takes only 20 minutes or less. In fact, to ease your anxiety and discomfort we provide you with a sedative prior to starting the diagnostic procedure.

Why bowel prep is so important

You may have misgivings about the colonoscopy because of the bowel prep required prior to the test. However, in order for us to provide an accurate and comprehensive evaluation, we need your colon to be clean and clear of all stool and residue.


To get your colon clean and clear, you’ll need to follow a clear liquid diet the day before your procedure, which may include:



Then, that evening, you’ll need to drink a special cleansing solution or an oral laxative that will forcibly clear out all the stool from your colon. 


We understand how you may find the bowel prep for your colonoscopy disruptive and difficult, but a few hours of discomfort may end up saving your life. 

Why a colonoscopy is the best colon cancer screening test

The U.S. Preventive Task Force recommends colorectal cancer screenings begin at age 50. However, you may need an earlier screening if you have colon cancer risk factors, such as a family history of colon cancer or a personal history of Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis. 

Regular colorectal cancer screening saves nearly 30,000 lives every year, says the American Society for Gastrointestinal Society


When it comes to colon cancer screenings, you have many options, including a fecal occult blood test, a stool DNA test, a flexible sigmoidoscopy, and a virtual colonoscopy. However, the traditional colonoscopy is still considered the most sensitive screening tool.


In addition to imaging, the colonoscopy is also used to biopsy abnormal tissue and remove colon polyps, which are benign growths that form on the inside lining of your large intestine. Colon cancer usually begins as a benign colon polyp. Finding and removing these growths may reduce your risk of developing the common and deadly cancer in the future. 


The good news is, if we don’t find any abnormalities and you don’t have any colon cancer risk factors, you only need a colonoscopy every 10 years. Other colorectal cancer screenings may need to be repeated more frequently. For example, it’s recommended that a fecal occult blood test be conducted annually and the flexible sigmoidoscopy every five years. 

Stop putting off your colorectal cancer screening. Call one of our convenient offices or set up a consultation online today.

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