The top five reasons to schedule a colonoscopy

Did you know that colon cancer is the third most common cancer in the U.S. and the second-leading cause of all cancer-related deaths? Early detection is key. The earlier you get screened, the better your chances are for a favorable outcome if anything abnormal is found.

Initial screening colonoscopies are now recommended starting at age 45 and every 10 years after that until at least age 75. If you have a family history of colorectal cancer, talk to your doctor to find out if you should be screened sooner or more frequently.

Alexander Lee, MD, a gastroenterologist at HonorHealth, identifies the top five reasons why you'll want to add a colonoscopy to your "to-do" list now:

1. The prep has improved.

Most people find the prep available these days to be much more tolerable. You start with a clear diet and may no longer need that infamous jug of prep fluid – now replaced with a more palatable prep solution. This makes it more comfortable than it used to be, and some brands even have flavors available for the prep.

2. It will be over before you know it.

You may be at the hospital or surgery center for about two hours total, and only 20-30 minutes of that time will be procedure time. You'll be comfortably sedated, similar to taking a nap from which you'll awaken alert and refreshed. Most patients won't need another colonoscopy for 10 years.

3. If you're experiencing symptoms, a colonoscopy is the fastest way to a diagnosis and treatment.

Any symptoms such as rectal bleeding, abdominal pain, a change in bowel habits or unexplained weight loss should be taken seriously, regardless of your age. These symptoms could indicate a significant gastrointestinal problem, including colon cancer. If that's the case, it's best to find it and treat it right away. A colonoscopy is often the best way to take a complete look at your colon, and it’s the only method to remove any polyps to be tested to see if they are normal or abnormal (potentially pre-cancerous).

4. High-risk individuals should be especially diligent about screening for colon cancer.

If you have a family history of colon cancer, previously had polyps removed or have a personal history of colon cancer or chronic inflammatory bowel disease, having regular, periodic surveillance colonoscopies is critical.

5. You can schedule a colonoscopy without an office visit – saving you time and additional co-pays.

If you’re healthy and don’t have any major medical conditions, you just need to fill out a form to schedule an Open Access Colonoscopy, so you can skip that extra appointment.

Colorectal cancer screening saves lives

While it’s true that there are other options for colon cancer screening, colonoscopy is considered the gold standard, and the only one that can treat and diagnose at the same time.

"During the past five years, more screenings have resulted in a decreased death rate from colon cancer," Dr. Lee said. "When the cancer is detected early, people live longer. The best test is the one that gets done, so I encourage anyone 45 or older to book that colonoscopy today."

Complete the form below to request your screening