Ester Marsh column: March is colorectal cancer awareness month

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 19, 2022

My husband just had his second, 10-year colonoscopy. He had a few polyps removed, but all is well and both came back benign. I have had two colonoscopies myself and feel that the preparation is the greater challenge and the colonoscopy itself a breeze. The stuff they make you drink now to clean out your colon has improved too. So why does a doctor schedule a colonoscopy?

A colonoscopy is a way to investigate intestinal signs and symptoms exploring causes for pain, bleeding and/or chronic constipation. I also had two polyps removed with my first colonoscopy.

So what is a polyp? A colorectal polyp is an abnormal growth of the inner surface of the large intestines and/or rectum.

So do polyps turn into cancer?

Colorectal polyps do not become cancer but colon and rectal cancers do start from polyps. One of my polyps was precancerous but was removed before it could turn into cancer. Another positive change from years ago is that the anesthesia they give you now is making you have a great restful sleep and no side effects.

When I have written about colon health before, people stopped me and thanked me for talking about colonoscopies and colon issues. Yet, there are still so many who are terrified having a colonoscopy. I believe in health and once a year I get a mammogram, visit my gynecologist, and have my cholesterol checked. Why would you not want to prevent certain illnesses and/or cancers with preventative screenings?

Most insurances want you to get them because they have figured out it’s a lot cheaper to prevent than to treat. Good health is taking care of your body by eating healthy, exercise, low stress (or learn how to deal with stress) and preventative screenings. My next colonoscopy is not for another four years. My husband is going back in seven years.

One of my cousins started having colon issues in his 60s. He lives in the Netherlands and they don’t do colonoscopies unless there are problems. He had a colonoscopy, they found cancer and now he lives with a colostomy bag. I am convinced if he would have had a preventative colonoscopy at the age of 50 his cancer could have been prevented.

Of course we never know for sure, but are you willing to take that chance?

If you are over 50 or have colon issues, get to the doctor and schedule a colonoscopy.

Ester H. Marsh is health and fitness director of the JF Hurley Family YMCA.