Women’s Health: Colonoscopy

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FILE – This microscope image made available by the National Cancer Institute Center for Cancer Research in 2015 shows human colon cancer cells with the nuclei stained red. A panel of health experts wants U.S. adults to start getting regular colon cancer screenings at age 45, five years earlier than it now recommends. While overall, colon cancer rates have been declining, the draft guidelines issued Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020, by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force reflect a growing concern about rising rates in younger people. (NCI Center for Cancer Research via AP, File)

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10)- Women may be under the false assumption they are at less of a risk for colorectal or colon cancer than men. The risk of developing one of these cancers is just about the same for men and women, said Dr. Mehmet Oz in an interview with NEWS10’s Christina Arangio.

Polyps, sometimes precancerous or cancerous, are removed during a colonoscopy. Dr. Oz used himself as an example of how important having the procedure is.

“I had adenoma polyps when I was 50. I’m not overweight. I have no history. While the doc was in there he cut it out,  they took it out and I’m done, I don’t have to worry about chemo or radiation or surgeries I’m done, it’s finished,” he said.

For some, preparation for a colonoscopy may cause more anxiety than the actual procedure. It includes using a laxative and eating clear foods to clean out the colon the day before a colonoscopy.

“My little secret pro tip on prep, stop eating solids the day before the prep starts so you’re intestines are already pretty empty you just have some liquids stuff in there so when you have the prep it’s nothing,” Dr. Oz said.

Prepare for a colonoscopy from Harvard Health

  • Make sure you have and understand bowel prep instructions well in advance of the procedure.
  • Pick up medicated wipes like Tucks or adult wipes with aloe and vitamin E.
  • A few days before the procedure eat a low-fiber diet free from whole grains, nuts, seeds, dried fruit, or raw fruits or vegetables.
  • Allow time and privacy on the day of bowel prep.
  • Keep clear liquids besides water (coffee/tea, clear broth, sports drink like Gatorade, popsicles, Italian ice, or jello) on hand.
  • Wear loose clothing and stay near a bathroom on the day of bowel prep.

Colonoscopy facts

  • Most take between 30-60 minutes.
  • A sedative is given to patients for the procedure.
  • The colonoscope is inserted into the rectum and allows for other instruments (ie. those needed to take a biopsy or polyp removal) to be passed through the scope.
  • Recovery from the sedative takes about an hour.
  • Patients will need to arrange for a ride home after the procedure.
  • Depending on the results of the colonoscopy, a doctor may recommend a temporary special diet.
  • A patient may pass gas, feel bloated or see a small amount of blood with the first bowel movement after the procedure.

*Source: Mayo Clinic

“These cancer cells, they start off as itty bitty little things and it’s so beautiful to be able to snip them out before they cause big problems,” said Dr. Oz. “60% of deaths from colorectal cancer could be prevented by screening, excluding skin cancer, colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer diagnosed in the U.S. It’s common enough that you should be worried about it.”

Women over the age of 40 with no health insurance, who meet income requirements may be eligible to get screened for colorectal cancer for free through St. Peter’s Health Partners. Patients can call (518) 525-8680 for more information or visit their website.

Women who live in Fulton, Montgomery, or Schenectady county can call the Cancer Services Program at (518) 841-3726. A list of programs that offer free colorectal cancer screening throughout New York can be found on the NYS Department of Health website.

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