Why Do I Need a Colonoscopy?
People have heard enough horror stories about colonoscopies to fill a Halloween haunted house. Even if you’re not old to have had one, you’ve probably heard about them.
So, if they’re such a hassle, why do you need one?
Can you say, “colorectal cancer?” That’s what we’re screening for when we perform a rectal exam at Women’s Health Medical Group. We’re looking to detect “occult bleeding,” bleeding that is unknown to the patient. If we find blood in a fecal occult blood test, we may recommend a gastroenterologist for you to have a colonoscopy.
You don’t want colorectal cancer. This is cancer that starts in the colon or the rectum; both are part of the large intestine. Your colon takes the water and nutrients out of the food you eat and separates it from the waste, which it then stores as fecal matter. It moves this from the colon into the rectum, where it then exits the body.
There are signs that you may have colorectal cancer.
- Change in bowl habits, such as consistent diarrhea or constipation
- Blood in your stool
- A feeling as if you can’t empty your bowel
- Persistent cramping
- Persistent gas
- Weakness or fatigue
The problem with all of these symptoms is that you get them when you already have colorectal cancer. And at that point, not a lot of good is in your future.
You need to diagnose colorectal cancer early to have success against it. Don’t believe that? The American Cancer Society says that 135,430 people were diagnosed with colorectal cancer in 2017. Of those, 50,260 died. Colorectal cancer is the third most common cause of cancer-related mortality for both men and women.
But if it is caught early, there is a 90 percent survival rate. Now you know why you may need a colonoscopy.
When should I have a colonoscopy?
Usually, your first recommended colonoscopy is at age 50. If you have a close relative who has had colorectal cancer, of if you’re African American, you may be requested to have a colonoscopy before you’re 50.
If your colon is in good shape, you’ll wait 10 years before your next colonoscopy. But if we find polyps the first time, you’ll probably need a second colonoscopy within 3-5 years.
You can fear the colon when it comes to English usage (beyond introducing a lengthy list of items), but there’s no need to fear it when it comes to the exams we need to perform at Women’s Health Medical. Colon cancer is a real risk that needs to be considered, especially as a woman gets older.
Call us at (817) 346-5336 to schedule your next appointment at Women’s Health Medical Group.