nurses4wellness blog.

Colonoscopies Save Lives and Money

Dear Fellow Nurse,

colonoscopy, prevent colon cancer, colon cancer, colon cancer screening, nurse

Like it or not, you need a colonoscopy!

Of the many reasons I was not thrilled to turn fifty, the thought of getting a colonoscopy was at the top of the list. So I did what many people do; I postponed having it done.

I thought, “I’m healthy, and I am not at high risk for colon cancer. Do I really need to do this now?” After nearly two years of rationalizing my decision to wait, my better sense took over and I had the screening done in August.

We’ve all heard that the prep is the worst part of the whole experience. Honestly, even the prep wasn’t that bad. The procedure went smoothly, and, thankfully, the findings were normal. The colonoscopy was worth the rush of relief, and now I don’t need to another one done for ten years.

Knowing how well a precancerous polyp can be detected and removed during a colonoscopy, it was foolish of me to postpone getting screened. One of the most powerful ways to positively influence others is to be a good role model. As nurses, when we keep up-to-date on preventive screenings, we can genuinely motivate others to do the same. Share your experience to help alleviate fears and inspire others to get screened. You could save someone’s life!

Be well,

Janet Fontana, RN, MA

Colonoscopies Save Money

Early detection of colon cancer saves lives and money. A study at Michigan State University found that the mean total cost attributable to colon cancer one year after diagnosis was $29,196! Luckily, on a per-survival-year basis, excess CRC costs were approximately nine times less for patients diagnosed at stage 0 versus stage IV. If for no other reason, get screened to save money!

Get More Sleep!

At University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Cleveland, researcher Dr. Li Li found that patients whose colonoscopies showed signs of early colon cancer tended to get less than six hours of sleep a night. This study indicates that, on top of all the other good things sleep can do for us, it also lowers colon cancer risk.

Trouble sleeping? Check out Pillow Talk, my 7 CD insomnia relief program.

Why Have a Colonoscopy?

It’s sad to think of all the family members and friends that have been lost to colorectal cancer. Luckily, there is hope. Among cancers that affect both men and women, colorectal cancer is the second leading cancer killer in the U.S. However, at least 6 out of every 10 deaths from colorectal cancer could be prevented if all men and women aged 50 years or older were screened routinely!

Precancerous polyps can be present in the colon for years before invasive cancer develops and can be hard to spot as they may not cause any symptoms. Screening tests can find precancerous polyps, so that they can be removed before they turn into cancer. Even if the polyps are not caught while they are still pre-cancerous, tests can also find colorectal cancer at a very early stage when treatment works best.

When Should I Get Screened?

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that screenings for colorectal cancer should begin soon after you turn 50 and in most cases, continue every ten years until age 75.  Unfortunately, certain people are at higher risk for colorectal cancer.

You should begin screenings earlier than age 50 if:

•  You or a close relative have had colorectal polyps or colorectal cancer.

•  You have inflammatory bowel disease.

•  You have genetic syndromes such as familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) or hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer.

How to Lower Your Risk

Researchers have been finding lots of ways you can lower your risk of developing colon cancer. In addition to getting more sleep, other ways to reduce your risk include:
~ Eating fish with omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon and tuna
~ Staying physically active – try 30 minutes of brisk walking each day
~ Eating fruits and vegetables
~ Limiting your alcohol consumption
~ Avoiding tobacco

Factors that may increase your risk of colon cancer include obesity, lack of exercise, tobacco use, alcohol consumption, and frequent consumption of red meet and fried foods.

Am I Covered?

Many states have passed laws requiring insurance coverage for a full range of colorectal cancer screening tests. Other states only require coverage of certain tests or have agreements among insurers, rather than laws, that provide coverage for a full range of tests. However, not all states have measure to ensure coverage. For a list of coverage by state, click here.

We can hope that, in the future, everyone will be covered. The 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act Coverage mandates coverage of colorectal cancer screening tests, but this mandate does not apply to health plans that were in place before the act was passed.