This is part of a series of 3 blog posts whereby a family member of a patient and a gastroenterologist are having a discussion on colonoscopy and colon cancer screening. Many individuals find reasons to put off their recommended colon cancer screening. Here, we address those objections. If you know someone who is resisting having their screening performed, please print or email them these 3 posts. It could save their life!
Several recent studies have found that married couples (and individuals in unmarried relationships) had a higher rate of colon cancer screening compared to single, divorced, and widowed individuals. Frequently, spouses bring partners in for screening, and occasionally, challenges or group mentality can be the driving force. It’s not uncommon to hear “my wife made me come in” or “what’s good for the goose is good for the gander.”
Females plan many of the health care initiatives and schedule appointments in many households, so it seems to work out in favor of those husbands in these “coupled” relationships with better screening rates. It appears that when couples near the 50-year-old benchmark for first screenings (40-45 for African Americans or people with family/personal histories or IBD), they take a team mentality in screening, going in together.
On the other side of the coin, doctors also encounter spouses/ family members that come to take patients home after their colonoscopy. When asked if they have had their colon cancer screening, luckily, most of them have been screened in a timely and scheduled fashion.
However, there are a few that resist scheduling their screening. Conversations with these family members typically go like this:
D (Doctor): Have you had your colonoscopy as well?
FM (Family Member): Oh no! I am not going to do that.
D: Why not?
FM: I don’t think I need it.
D: Everyone 50 years and older needs a screening colonoscopy.
FM: Well, I don’t want it.
D: But you need it.
FM: I feel fine. I don’t have any problems.
D: That’s why you need it, to keep you that way! Screening colonoscopy is a preventive measure, part of your wellness checks. Someone might not have symptoms from high blood pressure or cholesterol, but tests can reveal them! Similarly, colon polyps, and even colon cancer, do not always cause symptoms.
FM: I am scared.
D: Scared of what?
FM: Of what I am going to find out. I don’t want any bad news.
D: If you do a screening colonoscopy at 50, or sooner if you have a family member who has had colon cancer or polyps, then we can detect and effectively remove pre-cancerous polyps or even early cancer. Prevention and early diagnosis are more effective and much less scary than waiting for symptoms.
FM: I am afraid of drinking “that gallon stuff”.
D: There are several new prep options that are small in quantity and very effective. We have some tricks for an improved taste as well. Remember: the effort you put in one day of colon cleansing gives you peace of mind for 5-10 years and it could save your life!
Another positive perspective is that you might feel better after a complete cleanse and reduce your chance of having colon cancer. Many people in the general population pay good money for “colon cleanses” and “detoxes”.
***The next post in this series will publish on March 19,2015***
Get Behind Screening!
Everyone should strongly consider having colon cancer screening procedures performed at a high volume center where the staff is most experienced and well-trained. Recent research indicates that the best outcomes happen when a colonoscopy is performed by a board-certified gastroenterologist, as opposed to other physicians with less colonoscopy volume and subsequently less experience.
Board-certified gastroenterologists are trained for better detection and removal of polyps and appropriate treatment of any conditions noted, than other types of providers who may be just able to do a procedure. GI Alliance is dedicated to performing only gastrointestinal procedures with utmost levels of precision and care.