Your doctor has heard them all.
She has heard every excuse that someone can imagine for why they cannot have a colonoscopy. These excuses reflect the fears and apprehensions that patients have with medicine, in general, and medical examinations, in particular.
As with most fears, they boil down to one thing: a lack of information.
We reveal the five most common excuses that people give to delay colonoscopy and the reasons why each of these excuses can be dangerous.
I feel fine
While high blood pressure has earned the name the silent killer, the truth is that many diseases go undetected until it is too late. Colon cancer is a perfect example of one of those diseases. In early stage colon cancer, there are no symptoms. Patients may, in fact, feel just fine. As colon cancer advances, patients may experience a bit of blood in their stool that they made a mistake as a hemorrhoid. Perhaps the caliber of their stool begins to narrow, but they do not seem to notice. Indeed, very advanced colon cancer can cause a number of symptoms, but by that time treatment options are far more limited than they were when the cancer was in an early stage.
Feeling fine is not a good excuse for avoiding a colonoscopy.
Colon cancer does not run in my family
It is true that certain families do have much higher than normal rates of abnormal polyps and colon cancer. While colon cancer is very common in these families, it often occurs in people with no family history of colon cancer. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, colorectal cancer (colon cancer) is the third most common cancer in American men and women. If you have a large intestine, you are at risk for colon cancer.
While colon cancer may not run in your family, that is not a good excuse for avoiding a colonoscopy.
Colon cancer isn’t as dangerous as other cancers
People who voice this excuse tend to think that colon cancer is much more easily treated than breast cancer or ovarian cancer. They mention some statistic about prognosis and survival in colon cancer. Not only is colon cancer the third most common cancer among American men and women, it is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States. Therefore, colon cancer is both common and deadly. One of the main reasons that treatment for colon cancer has improved over recent decades is because of the increased use of colonoscopy for colon cancer screening.
Misunderstanding the dangers of colon cancer is not a good excuse for avoiding a colonoscopy.
There is no way I can drink bowel prep
No one likes bowel prep. That is simply a fact. Who wants to drink half a gallon or more of the salty liquid? The truth, though, is that thousands of Americans drink bowel prep every day in preparation for colonoscopy examinations. Moreover, newer formulations of bowel prep are better than they were even 10 years ago. The amount of bowel prep/laxative one has to consume is smaller, the taste is not as bad, and it has become easier to swallow with newer formulations. If you are serious about guarding against a deadly cancer, you will be able to find a way.
Bowel prep is not a good excuse for avoiding colonoscopy.
I can’t handle it being…there
There are no two ways about it (sorry, bad pun), a colonoscopy involves a very sensitive place. Admittedly, a colonoscopy would be difficult, uncomfortable, and potentially painful without sedation. The good news is that nobody has a colonoscopy without sedation. Patients undergoing colonoscopy are placed under twilight anesthesia. Twilight anesthesia is sedation almost to the point of being unconscious. In fact, most people do not even remember the examination!
None of these reasons can excuse someone from having a colonoscopy. If you are uncomfortable, afraid, or do not think you need a colonoscopy, at least tell your doctor. With a frank discussion, good communication, and high quality information you may be able to overcome your apprehensions and have this life-saving examination.