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Glacial Ridge Health System 

Blue for Colon Cancer – Don't Fear the Colonoscopy

 

Daryl Klous

Awareness of colorectal cancer, often called colon cancer, is so important because: it is the second leading cancer killer, both men and women can get it, this cancer often starts with no symptoms, and it is a cancer that can be stopped before it starts. Yes, simply testing for colorectal cancer can save your life.

The colon should be checked regularly starting at age 50, sooner if you are at a higher risk, through a screening test called a colonoscopy. As stated by General Surgeon, Dr. Blanco, "People with polyps or early colon cancer don't always have symptoms, increasing the importance of early detection with screenings. Those who have symptoms may have blood in stool, abdominal pain, weight loss or abnormal bowel movements." The procedure helps find precancerous polyps, and they are removed before they turn into cancer. Treatment is also most effective if colorectal cancer is found early. That is why having a colonoscopy is so important.

The colonoscopy, the butt of many jokes, is not as bad as people may think, or remember from a previous procedure. "Many people are afraid of discomfort with the test, but here at GRHS we are using newer approaches to sedation, pain control and colonoscopy techniques during the procedure which offer the choice of completely sleeping through the procedure and make it safer!  Most people now wake up after the procedure surprised that they are done." stated Dr. Mellgren.

Patients are cared for by a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) who focus on the patient's physical comfort and reducing their anxiety about the procedure. Rob Citrowske-Lee, Dana Citrowske-Lee, and Annie Molseed are the CRNAs at GRHS. One of the three will visit with the patient before their procedure. Rob said, "The anesthesia is customized for each person based on their individual needs. Some people are really anxious about the procedure, and it's part of my job to help them feel comfortable in all aspects. We want to make sure they come back when they're due for their next screening."

Colon cleansing prior to the colonoscopy ensures the bowel is empty and the colon can be viewed. "The prep may be annoying," agrees Dr. Mellgren, "but most people who have taken a prep solution more than ten years ago say the prep used now is better than what was required in the past." The prep solution used now is mixed with two 32 ounce bottles of Gatorade®.

Most insurance plans and Medicare help pay for colorectal cancer screenings. Get the test and lower your risk of developing colon cancer. Even if you don't have a colonoscopy this month, commit to having the discussion with your primary doctor.

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