Thoughts before a Colonoscopy
On Friday, I am scheduled to have a colonoscopy. I'm at an age with a family history where this is recommended. Since I work for a health care organization, I figure this is a good experience for me and I've spent more time than most researching colonoscopies.
I've looked at the relative prices of different facilities; searching information from my insurance provider as well as from online sites. I've read up on the procedure and possible outcomes.
According to the American Cancer Society, "Overall, the lifetime risk of developing colorectal cancer is about 1 in 20 (5.1%)". The survival rate for colon cancer depends on the stage it is detected. For Stage I, it is 74%, for Stage IV it is 6%. The numbers are pretty compelling. One in five chance of sometime developing colorectal cancer, but if it is detected early, you have over twelve times the chance of survival.
I've read all the details about the preparations for the test, and am not especially excited about the preparations, but I'll be fine. I've picked up little tidbits here and there. For example, my primary care doctor had suggested I take daily aspirin years ago. However, aspirin can increase the chance of bleeding, so I was told to stop taking aspirin at least a week before the procedure.
Another person I know, passed out after he began his preparations. In his case, it was dehydration. The instructions talked about drinking a lot of fluids. That's why. In my case, I've also been on a diuretic, which I've been told to stop taking shortly before the procedure. Yet I can and should keep taking a different blood pressure medicine.
I've read about the different types of anesthesia and the pros and cons of each. I'm not positive which anesthesia they will use, but have been told it won't be one that I had expressed concern about.
As to what is likely to happen, the University of Iowa reports 30% of people over 50 have polyps. So, I would not be surprised to have a polyp. The odds are much less that there will be anything cancerous, but if it wasn't a possibility, I wouldn't be having this test.
Hopefully, I'll write a blog post about the experience at the end of the week, and be done with it for several years.