I can’t for the life of me figure out why more than 50,000 Americans are still dying every year from colon cancer, because colonoscopy WORKS.
It not only detects cancer successfully, but it can also allow your doctor to remove it right on the spot. Instacure!
In fact it’s so effective that hardly anyone should die of colorectal cancers. That’s why it’s one major cancer screening I can get behind 100 percent.
The problem clearly isn’t the colonoscopy... it’s that many people don’t get the procedure and those screening skippers make up the majority of the 50,000 deaths.
I know a colonoscopy sounds about as a pleasant as a root canal performed by a baboon.
But trust me when I tell you it’s not so bad. It’s quick, painless, and it’ll cut your risk of death from colorectal cancer by more than half. So let’s proceed with the procedure.
I’m going to teach you how to save your butt—and the rest of you that’s attached to it—in three easy steps, starting with:
Save your butt step #1: Choosing the right procedure
There’s a big push these days for “virtual” colonoscopies, which patients think are easier and less invasive, and sigmoidoscopy which is in essence an incomplete colonoscopy that insurance companies love because it’s cheaper.
But virtual colonoscopy isn’t as non-invasive as it sounds. They have to shove a tube up your rear, pump in air and then blast you with radiation to examine the colon via a CT scan. And then if they do detect polyps, they have to go in with a traditional colonoscopy anyway.
And while sigmoidoscopy can be almost as good as colonoscopy since it covers the terrain most likely to have polyps, settling for “almost” when your life is on the line is never a good idea.
While colonoscopy is technically a bit more invasive than the other two procedures, you’ll be heavily, but pleasantly, sedated during the procedure so you won’t feel or remember a thing (thank goodness). The other two procedures are done with less sedation, and I’m told they can get quite uncomfortable—especially when they pump you full of air during the virtual procedure (the worst case of gas you’ve ever had).
Get the real deal instead—a full look with a complete colonoscopy. Which brings me to...
Save your butt step #2: Choosing the right doctor
A colonoscopy has been compared to getting your muffler checked. But if you bring your car into the shop and the wrong guy handles your muffler, the worst that could happen is that it’ll still be obnoxiously loud, and you’ll be out some money to fix the screw-up.
But if the wrong guy does your colonoscopy, you could end up dead because of the cancer he failed to detect.
Fortunately, docs have a secret batting average—a number that lets you know how often they detect polyps. Just like any ballplayer that can tell you how many homers he’s hit, any doc worth his salt can tell you his adenoma detection rate, or how often he find the polyps most likely to be cancerous.
A good doc sniffs them out an average of 30 percent of the time in men and 20 percent in women. And among those top-notch docs, the colon cancer rate is just 13 per 1,000 screened.
But in docs that do a half-assed job (pardon my French), the rate more than doubles to 27 per 1,000.
That’s almost (but not quite) as bad as not getting screened at all, since folks who don’t have a colonoscopy develop colon cancer at a rate of 34 per 1,000.
OK so once you’ve found a doc with a high batting average it’s on to...
Save your butt step #3: Choosing the right time
Now that you’ve picked the right doctor, don’t just take the first open appointment in his book.
I know you want to get this over with, but there’s a time and a place for everything—and when it comes to colonoscopy, the time is as early in the day as possible.
You’ve heard of how the early bird catches the worm? Well the early doc plucks the polyps. Studies show colon docs are sharp in the morning, but poop out as the day drags on.
They find 27 percent more polyps before 8:30 a.m. than they do afterward—and they find half as many polyps in the last patient of the day as they do?in the first, on average.
So you want your colonoscopy early, right when the doctor’s morning coffee kicks in. And since you can’t have your own cuppa Joe—or anything else for that matter—before the procedure, the early colonoscopy makes the most sense anyway.