Debunking colonoscopy myths: The truth behind the life-saving procedure

Posted 3/5/24

(BPT) - Your doctor just recommended you have a colonoscopy and you’re suddenly struck with a feeling of dread. No one looks forward to having a colonoscopy, but due to numerous myths and …

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Debunking colonoscopy myths: The truth behind the life-saving procedure

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(BPT) - Your doctor just recommended you have a colonoscopy and you’re suddenly struck with a feeling of dread. No one looks forward to having a colonoscopy, but due to numerous myths and misconceptions, many people are unnecessarily worried and delay a screening that could ultimately save their life.

A colonoscopy is a routine procedure that lets doctors get a closer look at the health of the colon and rectum. This important procedure screens for colorectal cancer, the second leading cause of cancer death overall in the United States, according to “Cancer Statistics, 2023” in the American Cancer Society’s (ACS) journal CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians.

“Detecting colorectal cancer early means it’s more likely to be treatable,” said Dr. Douglas K. Rex, M.D., Distinguished Professor Emeritus at Indiana University School of Medicine and a full-time practicing clinical gastroenterologist. “Don’t delay getting a colonoscopy. In addition to detecting cancer, this important procedure helps screen for other diseases and conditions such as polyps, ulcers, colitis, diverticulitis and more.”

Dr. Rex says many people who delay a colonoscopy realize their worries were unfounded after it's complete. He shares some of the top misconceptions about colonoscopies and the truths to put your mind at ease in hopes more people will schedule this potentially life-saving procedure.

Myth: No symptoms mean you don’t need a colonoscopy

Fact: It's tempting to skip a colonoscopy if you don't have any symptoms. However, lack of symptoms doesn’t necessarily mean your colon is healthy. For example, colon polyps can grow without any symptoms, and they may turn into cancer if not treated properly. Regular colonoscopies are recommended for anyone 45 and older, regardless of the presence of symptoms, because early detection makes treatment possible.

Myth: The prep for a colonoscopy is difficult

Fact: There's no getting around it the preparation for a colonoscopy can be unpleasant. However, you no longer need to force yourself to drink a gallon of unpleasant liquid in order to clear your bowels ahead of a colonoscopy. FDA-approved SUFLAVE™ is a low-volume, safe and effective colonoscopy preparation — with a taste similar to a lemon-lime sports drink. The sports drink like taste and lower volume makes for an improved patient experience when preparing for a successful procedure. Ask your doctor about SUFLAVE™ and learn more at Suflave.com.

Myth: Colonoscopies are painful

Fact: A doctor will provide you with a sedative to make you sleepy and relaxed. Once you're asleep, air is used to expand the colon so the doctor can look at all the interior walls with a tool called an endoscope. Because the colon has no nerve endings, even if polyps are removed, it doesn’t cause pain.

Myth: A polyp indicates cancer

Fact: After your colonoscopy you may learn that the doctor removed polyps. Polyps are noncancerous but they can lead to cancer, so it’s important to have these removed and sent to a laboratory for further testing.

Myth: The procedure and recovery take lots of time

Fact: You’ll be asked to check in for your colonoscopy appointment about an hour before the procedure. The test itself only takes about 30 minutes to complete. You’ll need about another hour to recover from the sedative at the clinic and will need someone else to drive you home once you’re released. Plan to lay low the rest of the day to allow the sedative to fully wear off.

"A colonoscopy takes a bit of time, but it's a worthwhile investment in your health. Knowing the facts and having access to new options like SUFLAVE™, can improve the prep experience and can make you feel better about getting this important screening done," said Dr. Rex.

IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION

SUFLAVE(polyethylene glycol 3350, sodium sulfate, potassium chloride, magnesium sulfate, and sodium chloride for oral solution) is an osmotic laxative indicated for cleansing of the colon in preparation for colonoscopy in adults.

DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION: A low residue breakfast may be consumed on the day before colonoscopy, followed by clear liquids up to 2 hours prior to colonoscopy. Administration of two doses of SUFLAVE are required for a complete preparation for colonoscopy. Each bottle must be reconstituted with water before ingestion. Each bottle and one flavor-enhancing packet are equivalent to one dose. An additional 16 ounces of water must be consumed after each dose. Stop consumption of all fluids at least 2 hours before the colonoscopy.

CONTRAINDICATIONS: Use is contraindicated in the following conditions: Gastrointestinal obstruction or ileus, bowel perforation, toxic colitis or toxic megacolon, gastric retention, hypersensitivity to any ingredient in SUFLAVE.

WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS: Risk of fluid and electrolyte abnormalities: Encourage adequate hydration, assess concurrent medications and consider laboratory assessments prior to and after each use; Cardiac arrhythmias: Consider pre-dose and post-colonoscopy ECGs in patients at increased risk; Seizures: Use caution in patients with a history of seizures and patients at increased risk of seizures, including medications that lower the seizure threshold; Colonic mucosal ulcerations: Consider potential for mucosal ulcerations when interpreting colonoscopy findings in patients with known or suspected inflammatory bowel disease; Patients with renal impairment or taking concomitant medications that affect renal function: Use caution, ensure adequate hydration and consider laboratory testing; Suspected GI obstruction or perforation: Rule out the diagnosis before administration; Patients at risk for aspiration: Observe during administration; Hypersensitivity reactions, including anaphylaxis: Inform patients to seek immediate medical care if symptoms occur.

ADVERSE REACTIONS: Most common adverse reactions (> 2%) are: nausea, abdominal distension, vomiting, abdominal pain, and headache.

DRUG INTERACTIONS: Drugs that increase risk of fluid and electrolyte imbalance.

See Full Prescribing Information and Medication Guide

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