Women's Health

Hooray For Colonoscopy!

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Colon cancer is the third leading cause of cancer death in women, behind lung and breast cancer. Every year, 25,000 of us will die from this disease. In my experience, so many of you don’t love your colons as much as you love your breasts and therefore avoid screening.

Here are 5 important things to know about colon health and wellness.

1. Colon cancer screening should start at age 50

The American Cancer Society and the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force are in absolute agreement about the guidelines for colon cancer screening for average risk women. Start at age fifty and continue every five to ten years until the age of seventy-five. What happens after that? You are a colonoscopy graduate. Enjoy the rest of your life.

2. Prevention and early detection are the keys to survival

The gold standard for both is colonoscopy. The reason that this is considered the best choice is because it allows your gastroenterologist to see the entire length of the colon as well as perform a biopsy of anything that looks interesting. Your doctor is looking for precancerous growths called adenomatous polyps. Removing them is the key to avoiding cancer down the road.

3. Are there any other tests besides colonoscopy?

Yes. They include stool testing, flexible sigmoidoscopy, double-contrast barium enema and CT colonography. There are risks and benefits to all of these choices, so please have a discussion with your favorite primary healthcare professional about what is right for you. If you want my opinion, however, I strongly recommend that, when possible, you always go with the gold standard.

4. Reduce your risk for colon cancer

There are definitely some scientifically proven strategies you can incorporate into your daily life to reduce your risk of colon cancer. For starters, physical activity has been credited with a 30% reduction in colon cancer. That’s reason enough to walk briskly everywhere you go. Quit cigarette smoking and avoid drinking too much alcohol. A daily baby aspirin, starting at the age of fifty and taken for ten years, is associated with a reduced colon cancer risk. Finally, a diet loaded with fruits, vegetables and grains appears to be protective, while a diet high in fat, as well as red or processed meats puts you at risk. So please pass the fava beans and take a pass on the French fries.

5. My secret recipe for a wonderful bowel prep day!

In my experience, the reason that so many of you avoid getting a colonoscopy is because you have either personally experienced a very unpleasant bowel preparation or heard about someone else’s tale of woe. When it was my turn to go for my own colonoscopy, I got the same prescription that most of you do. It usually calls for a big jug of awful tasting liquid that makes you gag the minute you start drinking it. So that’s when I sprang into action for myself. I came up with a better recipe that is delicious, efficient, comfortable and has you in bed and asleep by 10 pm. It’s great for both men and women, since the colon is not gender specific. I have given out my recipe to all of my patients as well as their husbands with subsequent rave reviews. And I guarantee that my recipe will make your prep day the most wonderful day of the year. All you have to do is… read my chapter called “Hooray For Colonoscopy” in Menopause Confidential to find out the secret.

So as I close out my blog, I would just like to tease you with To Pee or Not To Pee. Stay tuned to find out what that’s all about!

Are you dealing with any of these issues? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

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