There's a New Man in Town
By Jean Sutherland
Polyp Man, and he's no Casanova. He's the villain in a series of public
service announcements being broadcast on a number of television stations.
Dressed in red tights and a bulbous red suit, Polyp Man runs from doctors
who are out to get him.
The ads are being sponsored by the American Cancer Society in an effort
to raise awareness and to persuade people to get tested for colon cancer.
The bottom line is "Get the test, get the polyp and get the cure."
Everyone over the age of 50 should be getting tested but less than 44%
actually do. The Cancer Society estimates that 50% of colon cancer deaths
could be prevented if people would just get screened. So why do people
resist testing? First they perceive that the tests are going to be invasive,
painful and downright em- barrassing. Most do not know that simple fecal
tests can detect abnormalities and they may be embarrassing but they
are not painful. Some though will have to go through a sigmoidoscopy
or colonoscopy and this is when people start to go into denial.
So let's look at some of the facts before we go running scarred. Flexible
sigmoidoscopy is usually well tolerated and rarely causes much pain.
If you're worried about pain or discomfort then tell your doctor you
want something to help you relax and make it easier for you. There may
be a feeling of pressure, bloating, or cramping at various times during
the procedure. You will be lying on your side while the sigmoidoscope
is advanced through the rectum and lower colon. As the instrument is
inserted and then withdrawn, the lining of the intestine is carefully
examined. The procedure usually takes 5 to 15 minutes.
Ok, doesn't sound too bad. Not great, but can you buck up for 5 to 15
minutes and get through this procedure and give yourself a 50% chance
of living longer? That of course is for you to answer. It's your life
and you always have the right to choose.
Now let's examine the Colonoscopy. Dreadful words these doctors can
dream up for procedures! You would think they'd develop names that do
not scare us half to death. Ok, a colonoscopy is also usually well tolerated
and rarely causes much pain. There is often a feeling of pressure, bloating
or cramping at times during the procedure. Your doctor may give you
medication through a vein to help you relax and better tolerate the
procedure. If you want to feel better while having this done, then tell
your doctor that is what you want. There is no reason in the world that
you cannot have something that is going to make you more comfortable.
You lie on your side or your back while the colonoscope is advanced
slowly through the large intestine. As the colonoscope is slowly advanced
and then withdrawn, the lining is carefully examined. The procedure
takes 15 to 20 minutes.
That's it. Three tests, one easy, two a little more uncomfortable. Over
and done with in no time. Is 15 to 20 minutes of discomfort worth the
knowledge that you have nothing to worry about? That's a question only
you can answer. Just remember one thing-50% more lives could be saved
if people would simply have this procedure.