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Overcome Your Colonoscopy Fears

Overcome Your Colonoscopy Fears

Screenings for colorectal cancer are important. Evidence suggests they can help prevent 60% of colorectal cancer-related deaths.

“The most widely used test is the colonoscopy, because it is the only screening that can both detect polyps before they become cancerous and remove them during the same procedure,” said Scott Farquhar, MD, gastroenterologist at Archbold Gastroenterology Group. “Other screening tests are available, but colonoscopies are considered the gold standard because we can actually use them to prevent cancer.”

However, people often avoid colonoscopies out of fears that the tests are embarrassing or uncomfortable or that a screening may lead to a cancer diagnosis.

But take heart. Colonoscopies aren’t as bad as you may think.

FEAR: Colonoscopies are embarrassing.

REALITY: The test will be conducted in a private room with professional staff. Your medical team routinely performs several colonoscopies a day, and their main concern is keeping you healthy.

FEAR: The exam may be painful.

REALITY: Patients have the option to be sedated. You can receive medications that will help you relax or fall asleep completely while your provider performs the colonoscopy. All forms of sedation prevent you from feeling anything during the procedure.

FEAR: My doctor may find cancer.

REALITY: “There is always a chance we could find something concerning,” Dr. Farquhar said. “However, colorectal cancers are highly treatable and have a 90% five-year relative survival rate if detected in their early stages.”

If having a colonoscopy still makes you nervous, talk to your provider about alternative procedures. While a colonoscopy is the recommended screening, you have other options, such as virtual colonoscopies and stool-based tests.

Colorectal Cancers at a Glance

Who’s at Risk

Colorectal cancer can happen to anyone, but some people are at an increased risk.

  • More than 90% of people diagnosed are ages 50 or older.
  • Men are at a slightly greater risk than women.
  • Men = 47 cases per 100,000
  • Women = 36 cases per 100,000
  • Having a family history of colorectal cancer increases the risk of developing it.

Screening Can Save Lives

  • 45: Age people at average risk of colorectal cancer should begin screenings.
  • ~30,000: Lives that could be saved with increased colorectal cancer screening
  • 30-60: Minutes the average colonoscopy takes
  • 15%-40%: Percentage of adults who have polyps – potentially cancerous growths in the colon and rectum that are removed during a colonoscopy.

If you need a primary care provider with home to discuss your colorectal cancer screening options, visit To schedule your colorectal cancer screening, call Archbold Gastroenterology Group at 229.252.8003. A physician order is required.