by Rohtashav Dhir, MD
Gastroenterologist & Internist
I consider March a month of promises. It is a promise of the first warm sunray to the frigid earth for a thaw. It is a promise of the first tree bud to the bare tree for lush foliage. It is a promise of the first bird migrating back north - to our ears, a beautiful song. In this month, I want you to make a promise to your loved ones also for a first something.
March happens to be the Colorectal Cancer Awareness month. It is the month when thousands of patients, survivors, advocates and healthcare providers like me join together to spread colon cancer awareness. It is the one of the most common cancers and the second most common cause of death from cancer among Americans.
But this deadly cancer is preventable!
This cancer starts as pre-cancer growths called polyps which slowly can turn into cancer. There is a multitude of tests that can detect these polyps called colorectal screening tests. Colonoscopy, which is a rubber hose with a light at the end inserted from the bottom, is one of the tests that can detect all kinds of polyps, big or small, flat or round, and the only test that can be used to remove these pre-cancer growths before they turn into cancer.
As someone who does a fair number of colonoscopies regularly, I can vouch for its effectiveness in detecting and removing polyps. Importantly, polyps are quite common as Americans get older. It is not unusual for me to run into numerous, large polyps, some even starting to turn into cancer, with absolutely no symptoms or problems experienced by the patient. Therefore, we recommend everyone above the age of 50 or with family history of cancer to get in touch with your doctor to consider colorectal screening.
Colonoscopies these days are done with sedative medications that keep the patient comfortable during the procedure. Almost all of my patients sleep through the test and wake up in the recovery area to the noise of themselves passing gas!
You may also have heard about the preparation for the colonoscopy, and I will vouch that it may not be the best tasting liquid you will ever drink. But there is numerous formulations we can choose from to find the one that would work the best for you.
Finding time out from your busy schedule, putting yourself through the inconvenience of preparation, and have a camera up your rear, may just leave you thankful that you did.
So go ahead, make that promise to your loved one that you will find out what is up your butt! It is March, the month of promises, and you owe it to them.
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