The importance of a colonoscopy
Elisa Faybush, MD, is a gastroenterologist practicing at Banner Desert Medical Center. She can be reached at (480) 633-5930.
Question: I just turned 50, but I feel fine…do I really need a colonoscopy?
Answer: Having a baseline colonoscopy at age 50 could save your life.
A colonoscopy is used to screen for colon cancer and diagnose other problems. Colon cancer always starts with a polyp and the sooner polyps are discovered the better likelihood of preventing a cancer from forming.
It is recommended that you have a baseline colonoscopy at age 50 and then every ten years after that if everything is normal. If you don’t have any symptoms and your colonoscopy doesn’t reveal any polyps, you can feel at ease for another ten years as long as you remain symptom free.
One day’s inconvenience for 10 years of peace of mind is not bad. Most people find the “preparation” far more unpleasant than the colonoscopy itself. During a colonoscopy, you are sedated or given "twilight sleep" so you don’t feel pain or even remember the test.
The preparation, on the other hand, is done at home and it can be challenging. You are on a liquid diet the day before the procedure and prescribed a bowel prep that consists of either a half gallon mixture to drink or pills to take. Be sure to drink plenty of clear liquids, and plan to spend a considerable amount of time on the toilet.