Healthy Living

The Bottom Line: Colon Cancer Screening

Jul 16 2019

Family Nurse Practitioner Laura M. Willis, DNP, APRN-CNP, CMSRN discusses the importance of colonoscopy screenings.

There are many reasons people put off having a colonoscopy. The required preparations, being afraid the procedure is too invasive, and having to take a day off work are some of the main concerns. Even though colonoscopies can be considered inconvenient, colorectal cancer is life-threatening.

Excluding skin cancers, colon cancer is the third most common cancer diagnosed in both men and women in the United States. The American Cancer Society estimates that this year doctors will diagnose 101,420 new cases of colon cancer. It’s also expected to cause about 51,020 deaths.

The key to preventing colon cancer is screening. And the best way to screen for colon cancer is through a colonoscopy, available at Mercy Health hospitals.

I encourage my patients to schedule their screening according to this current guidance:

  • If you have no family history of colon cancer or polyps, you should start having colonoscopies at age 50. (I had my colonoscopy before age 50 and it was a breeze.)
  • There is evidence that African Americans have a higher risk of developing colon cancer. If you are African-American, consider having a colonoscopy done at age 45.
  • If your colonoscopy checkup is clear, there is no need to repeat the screening for 10 years.
  • In cases where polyps were removed, the typical time frame to repeat the procedure is three to five years.

Uncomfortable with a colonoscopy? Talk to your care provider about the procedure. Ask if you are a candidate for alternative testing and how effective that testing is at detection. Itโ€™s important to make an informed decision and act when it comes to cancer prevention.

Learn more about all of the Colon and Rectal Cancer services offered by Mercy Health.

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