By Dr. Sunana Sohi
Your Voice Contributor
Remember the girl who loved mini-skirts and roller rinks and shook her booty to a song about survival? Don’t let her down – during Women’s Health Month in May, take the necessary steps to schedule all your preventive health screenings, including a colonoscopy. It could save your life.
For most women, Women’s Health Month is a reminder to schedule their annual Pap test and mammogram, and maybe to make that appointment with a dermatologist that they’ve been putting off. However, one of the most important tests that women over 50 (or 45 for African-Americans) need to schedule is a colonoscopy.
Colon cancer is the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths for women in the U.S. – right behind breast cancer. However, when it is caught early, colon cancer is 90 percent curable. And a colonoscopy is the only test that can detect and prevent cancer at the same time.
As a gastroenterologist, I know that there are many reasons that 40 percent of at-risk women put off getting screened for colon cancer. The test usually requires time off from work or family obligations. Prepping for the colonoscopy requires a combination of laxatives and fasting. And the nature of the test leaves many with apprehensions.
In reality, a colonoscopy is a relatively easy procedure. Patients are given anesthesia, and the entire procedure usually takes 30 minutes to an hour. If there are no problems, a follow-up test isn’t recommended for another five to ten years. Most of the women that I’ve screened leave the test with the same opinion: it wasn’t as bad as they thought, and the peace of mind is worth it.
Through StopColonCancerNow.com, I am working with a national community of physicians who are committed to increasing colon cancer screenings for men and women at risk for colon cancer. Age is the number one risk factor – if you are 50 or older, or 45 and African-American, it is time to get screened. However, other factors such as family history or certain digestive symptoms could require earlier screening.
So talk with your OB/GYN or primary care physician about the right age for screening for you. Disco may be out, but staying healthy isn’t.
Dr. Sunana Sohi is a gastroenterologist at Louisville Endoscopy Center. She is a part of StopColonCancerNow.com, a community of more than 700 member physicians who are working to increase colon cancer screenings through patient education, primary care physician outreach and special events.