Guest Blogger: Benjamin Hyatt, MD, UMass Memorial Medical Center, Division of Gastroenterology
March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, so it’s time to discuss an uncomfortable topic: colon health. Let’s start with the bad news: Colorectal cancer is the third most common form of cancer in the United States. But here’s some good news: it’s most often preventable.
So how do you prevent it? A colonoscopy.
People are often afraid of colonoscopies; but not because of the procedure, because of the prep. Just the thought of drinking a gallon of solution the night before to “clear out the area” brings nightmares to many. Thankfully, advances allow for an easier prep that can lead to a healthier you.
The Week Before
Starting a week before your scheduled procedure, modifications to your diet will make for an easier, more comfortable prep. Just slight changes to your diet, such as decreasing high-fiber and other hard-to-digest foods helps. Skipping this step can make the night-before prep more difficult.
The Night Before
Gone is the gallon of salt water prep solution. Now patients have the option of drinking a few ounces of prep solution with glasses of water at night and again in the morning. With the prep split into two days, it’s more comfortable and more effective.
The purpose of the preparation is to clean out the colon to provide more clarity while looking for any abnormalities. While you are asleep, the doctor will be searching for polyps – small growths within the colon that start off benign – but can sometimes turn cancerous. These polyps can be removed during a colonoscopy to prevent colon cancer.
Join the conversation. It’s Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, so that means it’s #timetotalkaboutit. Follow the hashtag on Facebook to learn how you can enter to win a special prize to help keep your colon happy! Have you talked about it yet?