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How Colonoscopies Reduce the Risk of Colon Cancer

colon-cancer-is-preventable-with-a-colonoscopy

A Colonoscopy Could Save Your Life

I was recently told a story of a mother and daughter who both passed away from colon cancer, one week apart.

Yes, one week apart. The news left me devastated and frustrated.

Colon cancer is one of the most curable, preventable cancers—yet it continues to kill.

If everyone would just get a simple procedure known as a colonoscopy we could win this war. It's true!

You might have heard all types of stories, but it just takes a little bit of common sense to realize that you could save your own life.

I hope I could convince you to make that one phone call that could help save a life.

Whether it be your life or that of a loved one—we could all use a bit of a nudge or some coaxing in order to make the first move.

So, go ahead and do it. Make that phone call.

The most influential person you talk to on a daily basis is you.

Family History of Colon Cancer

I have a family history of colon cancer. My maternal grandmother and my mother both lost their lives to this dreaded disease. My brother is battling polyps and has repeated colonoscopies. Colon cancer is highly genetic. If you have a family member who had it chances are you are at high risk.

The test is not something we look forward to, but it's called preventive medicine for a reason. In addition, I'd rather have the procedure than the alternative. I must admit I do enjoy the anesthesia—that stuff is a miracle in itself.

Each year medical science amazes us with how much easier this procedure gets. It's literally a piece of cake and when your screening is over, you get to eat cake to celebrate the courageous you!

I've heard stories about back in the day when patients were awake during the procedure and it was very uncomfortable, it's not like that anymore. I've been told stories about the prep work being horrible and the liquid having a gross taste.

Times have changed, depending on your physician we are now able to just swallow a pill and drink lots of water. I've heard complaints about spending too much time in the bathroom and not being able to eat solid foods the day before. So what!

If you think about it your bowels are receiving a much-needed cleansing! In addition, no one has ever died from not eating solids for one day, but they have died from colon cancer. It happens more frequently than necessary!

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Why You Should Get a Colonoscopy

As an advocate for colon cancer awareness, I've heard many excuses about why people haven't had their test yet. Some of the responses can't be repeated due to inappropriate terminology but I will keep my answers as clean as possible:

  • The gastroenterologist has seen plenty of backsides, and yours is no different.
  • It's better to have a scope inserted in your colon than have to wear a colostomy bag. Trust me on this one, I have witnesses to testify for this!
  • If there is a polyp found it will be removed and biopsied. You won't feel a thing!
  • There is no easier way to effectively be checked for colon cancer. I don't see one in the near future, so stop making excuses and get 'er done!

There is a virtual colonoscopy in which you still need to prep and you aren't sedated. The downside to this test is if a suspicious area is noticed it can't be removed and you'll need a colonoscopy regardless and have to do the prep all over again. In addition, your colon is still inflated with air and you will need to lay still while going through the CT scanner. This doesn't sound very enticing to me! I'd rather be taking a little nap and woken up when it's all done.

Signs of Colon Cancer

There are several signs and symptoms of colon cancer, but many of them could also indicate other issues, so they may be inconclusive without consulting with a medical professional.

  • Rectal bleeding is one sign, but that can be caused by many other issues that are not as serious.
  • Bloating and excessive gas is another sign, but then again this can be associated with many other ailments.
  • Extreme weight loss is another sign, but here again that could be from many things.
  • I was told that irregularly shaped stool (flat on one side) is another sign due to a tumor or polyp blocking the passageway.

Consult With Your Doctor

Your doctor is the best person to judge any issues you have. Never be too embarrassed to ask questions. There are no silly questions. Wouldn't you rather be discussing your follow-up appointment in 10 years than when chemo treatments will begin?

Everyone male and female should have their first colonoscopy procedure performed at age 50. If all is well then you won't need another test for 10 years.

If there is a family history of colon cancer then you should begin sooner. For example my mother's colon cancer began at age 55. So according to the recommended guidelines, I should have had my baseline colonoscopy 10 years before her cancer began. Which is age 45 for me. Which is exactly when I had my baseline. So if your family member was diagnosed over age 60, your doctor might suggest you start your baseline at a different age.

These are just the basic guidelines. Don't procrastinate any longer, if you fall into one of these groups please get tested. If this message helps save one life I've done my part but I hope this article helps in at least planting a seed in many of your heads. Keep in mind the old adage ... It's better to be safe than sorry!

Possible Signs of Colon Cancer

  • Change in bowel movements
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Abdominal discomfort
  • Fatigue
  • Feeling of incomplete evacuation of the bowel
colon-cancer-is-preventable-with-a-colonoscopy

My Second Colonoscopy

I had my second colonoscopy performed on September 9, 2011.

  • Prep: Good
  • Procedure: Painless and enjoyed my 15 minutes snooze
  • Results: Perfect colon!

Preparation

My prep for this procedure was different than the prep I used three years ago.

  • Sept. 7: After dinner I drank a 10-ounce bottle of Magnesium Citrate Oral Solution which is sold at any drug or grocery store. Mine was lemon flavored so it tasted like a salty lemon. Yuck. Once I poured it over ice it was easier to drink. It went to work almost immediately.
  • Sept. 8: I was allowed a small breakfast and then a liquid-only diet until after the procedure. The prep today was OSMOPREP pills. 32 of them. At 1:00 I consumed four pills with a glass of water every 15 minutes until 2:00. Went to work immediately. Continue with liquids ALL DAY. At 6:00 I consumed the remaining 12 pills.
  • Sept. 9: at 8:00 a.m. I was coming out of twilight and received the news that I was good to go for another 3-5 years. I was elated and hungry.

When possible try to get the first appointment of the day for your test. The later your appointment is the longer you have to wait for the patients before you. My gastroenterologist is fantastic! He's always early and doesn't spend time on the phone or online between patients like some do. My appointment was at 7:30 a.m., I arrived at 6:30 a.m. and was out of the surgery center at 8:15 a.m. If you are in the Orlando area I highly recommend my doctor so feel free to contact me.

Disclaimer: This was MY prep for my procedure. Always follow your doctor's instructions. The test is truly a breeze. It's worth the inconvenience. Good luck with your test!

Prep for my third colonoscopy

Prep for my third colonoscopy

My Third Colonoscopy

On October 15, 2014, I had my third colonoscopy. This time around it was a bit of a challenge for me.

I decided to try another doctor who was closer to home and performed the procedure at our local hospital. One of the challenges was, I was not allowed to eat any solids the day before. I was used to having a light breakfast.

The second challenge was she doesn't begin procedures until 9:30 a.m. and I was fourth in line. One last challenge is I can not drink, even water, after midnight. Going 36 hours without solid food and 12 hours without water is indeed quite a challenge. I now realize I was a bit pampered with my last doctor, but due to family obligations, I had to do what I had to do.

The prep was a breeze! I always thought I disliked Gatorade so I was dreading drinking it, but I liked it. Maybe it was the Miralax being added to it or my tastes changed, I'm not sure, but the drink was pleasant. The Dulcolax pills are tiny and helped move things along. I was cleaned out in a matter of hours. I started my prep at 10:30 a.m., since I couldn't eat, why wait until the specified 3:00 p.m. I had some tea, diet Coke, chicken broth, lemon Italian ices, and water. I also attempted Jello, but I'm just not a fan. I had another perfect prep. My doc was pleased.

The procedure went smoothly. Two polyps were found, snipped, and sent off for a biopsy. Kind of scary that in just three years, two polyps could appear and the recommended guideline for a colonoscopy is not every 10 years. Not for this girl. I'm sticking to my every three years schedule. Also, for the record, I'm a fan of Propofol ... I enjoy my nap. If only the hospital would allow me to stay longer and finish my nap instead of rushing me out of the building...

The Colonoscopy Song

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2011 Linda Bilyeu

Comments are welcome....

Sangam Krishnamoorthy Ramamoorthy from India on May 18, 2018:

My paternal uncle suffered and survived from colon cancer. He was treated in India. Our family does not have a cancer history. But my uncle was treated for this deadly cancer. He was cured with radio therapy. My sister survived from leukaemia. I have donated stem cells to her. With all healthy habits why these two suffered from Cancer. I have an article published on hub pages about my experience on donating stem cells to my sister on hubpages.

Your article is good enough with all information on colon cancer. An article for patients and families.

Linda Bilyeu (author) from Orlando, FL on October 17, 2014:

Good to know you are keeping up with your procedures, Mary...just like all cancers, colon cancer is just as sneaky, but also very preventable with a screening. Keep up the good work!

Mary Craig from New York on October 17, 2014:

This is a timely hub whenever it is posted or read. My father died of colon cancer. He never had a colonoscopy and thought he had hemmorrhoids. Subsequenlty, he had one reversible surgery and the second one he had the bag permanently. Since I am adopted I never worried about colon cancer until I got Celiac. I have had many colonoscopies and many polyps.

Your advice, as always, is the best!

Voted up, useful, awesome, interesting, and shared.

Dianna Mendez on October 16, 2014:

This is a good article covering the procedures for this important test. Sharing your experience makes it seem a bit more tolerable. Great message for all readers.

Linda Bilyeu (author) from Orlando, FL on April 24, 2014:

Good for you Nell, doctors make mistakes...not sure how he knows that "you don't need one," even though you do have IBS. You'll do great! Keep us posted. Good luck!

Nell Rose from England on April 23, 2014:

Thanks Linda, yes its the drink that I am not looking forward too! lol! mind you its my own fault, the doc said I didn't need one as its only IBS but I insisted, its best to find out myself!

Linda Bilyeu (author) from Orlando, FL on March 14, 2014:

Hi Lisa...Something for you to look forward to when you turn 50!

Linda Bilyeu (author) from Orlando, FL on March 14, 2014:

Hi Mary...Good to hear your daughter passed her colonoscopy test! :)

Linda Bilyeu (author) from Orlando, FL on March 14, 2014:

I agree Pam, the liquid used to be not so tasty. Times have changed and the prep drinks are not as bad as they once were. That's great to hear about your mom. Wishing her continued good health.

Lisa VanVorst from New Jersey on March 14, 2014:

Very informative hub. I am not 50 and have no history. When I turn 50 this is one test I will make sure I have.

Mary Hyatt from Florida on March 14, 2014:

My 50 year old daughter just had a colonoscopy just last week. Everything was OK, but I feel better cause she had one done. The prep was always very hard for me to do in the past, but I've had them done.

Voted Up, etc.etc.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on March 14, 2014:

I am so glad to know the prep has changed. I hated drinking all that liquie. Your hub is definitely a life-saving hub for those that following your instructions. My grandmother died of colon cancer when I was a baby, but my mother has had no problem at 90. I believe in this preventative procedure also and you explained everything very well.

Nithya Venkat from Dubai on March 13, 2014:

Great life saving hub, came back to read again,voted up. Informative and useful.

Linda Bilyeu (author) from Orlando, FL on March 13, 2014:

Way to go Dianna. A colonoscopy isn't as bad as everyone seems to think. It's fast and painless, plus you get a good nap :)

Dianna Mendez on March 13, 2014:

As you say, it is a simple procedure and it saves lives. Glad you brought this to our awareness. I've had mine and it put my mind at ease, so worth the trip to the doctor.

Linda Bilyeu (author) from Orlando, FL on April 26, 2013:

Vellur, Prettynutjob, Jimmy...Amen and I agree with all your thoughts. Just get 'er done.

Jim Laughlin from Connecticut on April 26, 2013:

I had my first last year. I WAS SO NERVOUS! Freaking out! After it was done, I laughed at how quick and easy it was. Get'er done!

Mary from From the land of Chocolate Chips,and all other things sweet. on April 26, 2013:

Great hub, voted up, more and shared, the best way to beat cancer is to catch it before it gets too bad.

Nithya Venkat from Dubai on April 26, 2013:

Thank you for sharing this life saving information. The preparation for colonoscopy is tough, the procedure is OK. Whatever maybe one should undergo colonoscopy, specially if they have polyps, as you have mentioned. Great hub, useful and informative. Voted up.

Linda Bilyeu (author) from Orlando, FL on April 24, 2013:

Mary, Pinto, Michelle, Torri ... Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

torrilynn on March 11, 2013:

Hi Sunshine,

I think that it is important to get procedures done to make sure

that you are cancer free or god forbid do have cancer that you can

get it treated right away. thanks for this hub and for sharing the right information.

Voted up and shared.

Michelle Liew from Singapore on March 11, 2013:

I have a great aunt with Colon Cancer, who has, through God's Grace survived it and is doing well. Thanks for this share, which I will pass to her.

Subhas from New Delhi, India on March 11, 2013:

Being from the medical field, I perfectly understand the importance and effectiveness of your thoughts and if transformed into deeds, will definitely save so many lives. Great hub!

Mary Hyatt from Florida on March 11, 2013:

You have given readers lots of good information here. I have a colonoscopy every three years. The prep may be better now, I was miserable. After taking the liquid prep (can't remember the name), I sat on the John for the next 12 hours non stop. The procedure itself was nothing, just the prep was hard on my body!

Voted Up and shared.

conradofontanilla from Philippines on March 11, 2013:

There is a new cure for cancer, gene therapy. However, it is still in the development stage. The theory is already here and the procedure done on mice. I have a Hub on this topic.

Native production of inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) is small and its product, nitric oxide (NO), is unspecific in getting to target. So production of iNOS must be induced and delivery made specific. The gene that controls iNOS of man is cloned, the gene of carrier is cloned, and the gene of antibody that makes delivery specific is also cloned. These genes are sewed up together resulting in recombinant DNA. The recombinant is administered like vaccine. Once the iNOS gene is inside the cancer cell, it will produce NO that kills cancer cells.

Nell Rose from England on March 11, 2013:

Hi Linda, its really odd but over here in England we never get letters for a checkup for this, we have all the other reminders, but this one is something that is never discussed, great information, and well worth spending just a couple of hours doing, nell

Linda Bilyeu (author) from Orlando, FL on March 11, 2013:

March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month. If you've been contemplating scheduling your appointment...now is a good time.

conradofontanilla from Philippines on December 18, 2012:

Both chemo and radiation kill healthy cells but differently. Chemo produces free radicals, like singlet oxygen, that kills cancer and healthy cells. Radiation excites electrons in the inner orbital of an atom, like nitrogen or phosphorus; the excited electron moves out of its orbital and the original nitrogen is no longer nitrogen; meaning the cell is injured resulting in death. Radiation like X-ray is high energy that moves an electron; that is what excite means.

conradofontanilla from Philippines on December 18, 2012:

Julz4,

Once more, because I missed to say that chemotherapy is scheduled far apart to allow blood cells to replace those damaged in one session. Chemo kills healthy red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. It is essential that a fellow being given chemo has a high blood count. I have two Hubs on colon cancer: "How heritable colon cancer develops from polyp (benign tumor)," and "Even without an inherited polyp a person can develop colon cancer." I also discuss controls of colon cancer. Don't wait for colonoscopy because when you go for it some adenomas might have advanced that colonoscopy is unable to remove and surgery might be necessary. Colon cancer can be prevented. Its forerunner, the polyp, must undergo 5 to 7 more mutations in genes of the same cell to develop into cancer. That's unlike heritable breast cancer that is controlled by the gene BRCA1. One of its alleles is mutated and is inherited. One more mutation, in the normal allele, in the same cell will make the progress to breast cancer.

KellyGirl might have an inherited colon cancer that is of two forms. I discuss one form in my first Hub.

Linda Bilyeu (author) from Orlando, FL on December 18, 2012:

Hi Kelly, I'm sorry you lost your mom to CC. I'm impressed how at age 25 you've decided to become proactive with your screenings. Way to go! The procedure is a piece of cake. I'm sure you'll be fine. I hope other young people are inspired by your message. I'm still pushing friends in their 30's and 40's who have a family history to be screened, they continue to come up with excuses. I'll continue to push them. Keep us posted on your progress. Thank you again for sharing!

KellyGirl2387 on December 17, 2012:

Hello, sunshine:

Thank you so much for writing this. I lost my mama to colorectal cancer in September -- she was diagnosed in May 2010 at 59 years old.

I scheduled a physical two weeks after my mom passed. That changed everything for me and I decided, being as young as I am (25), I'm going to take care of myself, have annual physicals and blood work and do whatever I can to be cancer free. Well, my internist is a rockstar. Ordered a colonoscopy for me, even though she said she's jumping the gun -- she'd rather be aggressive because my mom's cancer was aggressive and diagnosed stage 3 and she'd also like a baseline for me, since I'll have several colonoscopies throughout my life. So, January 4 I go in for my first colonoscopy at age 25. I'm pretty nervous about it, mostly because I'd like a clean bill of health, but I've heard the procedure is nothing. Plus, if they were to find something, it would most likely be polyps at the earliest stages! So, thank you for writing this. I hope to report back with the all clear for the next 3-5 years.

Linda Bilyeu (author) from Orlando, FL on September 20, 2012:

Wow Deb, we are on another journey together. We are the smart ones who get 'er done. It's truly a piece of cake to have a colonoscopy. I've never had an endoscopy, but I have a couple of friends who get both done at the same time. Just like you said might as well get 'em both over with. Wishing you success on each of your tests! :)

Deborah Freed from Virginia Mountains on September 20, 2012:

I am right there with you sista! My brother had colon/rectal cancer in 2004, surgery early 2005, chemo, radiation and chemo. It was August by the time all his treatments were finished. He didn't have his colonoscopy at age 50 like he should have. I am 2 years young than he and did have mine. I used the pills the first time too and drank gatorade. The second one I had I used gatorade and miralax but had to drink a GALLON. This last one was in April 2012 and I had the endoscope and colonoscopy at the same time (may as well get it all done at once!) and only had to drink 32 ounces of gatorade and the miralax and clear liquids the day before the procedure. And yes, it wasn't bad and I was glad to be knocked out and given the MJ (Michael Jackson) drug and awakened refreshed and hungry and ready to go. I do have to go back every 3-5 years because of my family history but I believe the procedure will get better and the prep will be easier. Yes, a colonoscopy is much better than a colostomy. thanks for encouraging people to do this!! Prevention is always easier than having to have treatment!!

Linda Bilyeu (author) from Orlando, FL on August 24, 2012:

Much appreciated!

Guest on August 24, 2012:

will do ;)

Linda Bilyeu (author) from Orlando, FL on August 23, 2012:

Thank you for sharing and in doing so possibly saving a few lives. Keep us posted on your progress. I need all the support I could get to convince others to just get 'er done.

Guest on August 23, 2012:

Thank you Sunshine625! I agree with you 150% and I just want others to realize how important it is. Thank you for having this site and for allowing people to share their stories in order to promote awareness!

Linda Bilyeu (author) from Orlando, FL on August 23, 2012:

Hi, I'm sorry about your loss. I salute you on at the age of 40 being pro-active and have the screening done. If you have waited you never know what that polyp would have done. The bruise is small price to pay for possibly saving yourself from colon cancer. Thank you sharing your journey.

Guest on Au