Three Myths You Shouldn't Believe About Colonoscopies

Health & Medical Blog

Colon cancer is very common, but it can be detected through screening test such as colonoscopies. Myths about colonoscopies may deter you from undergoing this potentially life-saving test. Here are three myths that you shouldn't believe about colonoscopies.

Only people with symptoms need them

You may think that if you had colon cancer, you would notice symptoms, but this is just a myth. In fact, most of the time, people with early stage colon cancer don't notice anything wrong. When symptoms do appear, they're very vague and may include diarrhea, constipation or gas.

The American Cancer Society recommends getting a colonoscopy at the age of 50, even if you don't have any symptoms, and then repeating the tests every 10 years. This test can detect polyps—which could later turn into cancer— or cancerous masses, and this allows them to be removed at an early stage, before you suffer symptoms.

Only older people need them

Colon cancer is often thought of as a disease that only seniors get. This isn't true, and this myth is dangerous because it gives younger people a false sense of security. While it's true that 90% of new colon cancer cases occur in people who are 50 years of age or older, and the average age when a person is diagnosed as 72, colon cancer can happen to people of any age. In fact, colon cancer is actually becoming more common in people who are younger than 50.

While doctors don't recommend routine colonoscopies for people younger than 50, there are still situations where a younger person may need one. Your doctor will let you know if you fall into this category. For example, a younger person may need to have a colonoscopy performed if they have unexplained diarrhea.

Only people with family histories need them

If you have a family history of colon cancer, your risk of developing colon cancer is nearly double the risk of someone who doesn't have the same family history. Your considered to have a family history of colon cancer if any of your first-degree relatives, like parents or siblings have had the disease, or if many of your other relatives, like cousins or grandparents, have had the disease.

Not having a family history of colon cancer is no reason to skip your colonoscopy. While your risk is lower, it is not zero. In fact, only one-third of colon cancer cases are associated with genetic inheritance.

Don't let myths about colonoscopies keep you from scheduling this important procedure. If you've never had a colonoscopy before, ask your doctor when you should start.  


28 June 2016

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