One reason why I am still alive at 63 years 7 months (and counting) is that I got my “routine” colonoscopy at age 50…
Without that “routine” colonoscopy, I would have most certainly not discovered I had colon cancer until I became symptomatic. By then it might have been too late.
Instead, I was one of the lucky ones.
Long story short, my colon cancer was stage 1. This means that the disease was confined to my colon and hadn’t spread to the neighboring lymph nodes. It also means that it was treatable by surgery alone (no chemo or radiation required). My entire ascending and half of my transverse colon removed. Free appendectomy included. Declared cured at the time, although the story became more “interesting” a decade later (more on than in subsequent posts).
In summary, that “routine” colonoscopy saved my life and eliminated years of unnecessary suffering and probable death. I stand before you as a poster child for early detection.
So, no matter who you are, get your routine colonoscopy at an appropriate age. As of this writing, the current guidance is for those with no personal or family history of cancer and no genetic predispositions to get their first colonoscopy at age 45, but for those with a personal or family history of colon cancer or a genetic predisposition, you need to work with your doctors to determine an appropriate age. (Frank would never dare to give specific medical advice).
But he is perfectly comfortable sending the following message loud and clear: Get a colonoscopy at an age that suits your particular medical situation.
DO IT no matter how scary it sounds.
DO IT no matter how inconvenient it may be.
DO IT no matter now healthy you think you are.
DO IT for you.
DO IT for your family and friends, too.
Chances are you’ll have no polyps and no evidence of disease… and you will come away with some well-earned peace of mind.
And in the chance that you do have polyps, they will be removed–absolutely painlessly–during the colonoscopy and you will have reduced your risk of colon cancer immensely. And then you can come up with a plan to stay ahead of any future problems.
And in the small chance they do find cancer, early detection gives you a fighting chance where the numbers are all on your side.
So, please just get your colonoscopy… and encourage all your loved ones to get one too.