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Screening sense

Colon screenings can prevent colorectal cancer

The American Cancer Society (ACS) estimates that 97,220 adults will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer in 2018 alone. Luckily, a simple and effective colon screening can protect you from this deadly cancer.

Polyps that turn cancerous are the culprits behind 98 percent of colorectal cancer cases, says Sandra Flintom, RN, BSN, MSN, CFNP. “Colorectal cancer can be preventable,” Flintom says. “By getting rid of the polyps, you can get rid of the cancer.”

During a colonoscopy, a doctor examines the entire length of the colon using a long, flexible colonoscope. Any polyps or abnormal areas will be biopsied and sent to pathology for examination. Most polyps can be fully removed, Flintom says. Patients are sedated during the 30–45 minute procedure.

ACS now recommends that average-risk adults undergo colonoscopies starting at age 45. People at increased or high risk of colorectal cancer might need to start colorectal cancer screening sooner. This includes people with a strong family history of colorectal cancer or certain types of polyps.

For many, the hardest part of the procedure is the preparation, Flintom says. The Colon Clinic uses a GoLYTELY® preparation drink, divided between the night before and morning of the procedure, to cleanse the bowels. The day before the procedure, patients fast, consuming only clear liquids. They must not consume anything, including clear liquids, for two hours before the procedure.

Flintom emphasized that patients must drink plenty of approved clear liquids during preparation so that everything gets flushed through. Information with approved clear liquids will be given to a patient before the procedure.

Also, patients must arrange transportation home since they were sedated for the procedure.