Ahmed Allawi, M.D. (left), and Dr. Kim-Phung Nguyen, colorectal surgeons with AdventHealth Tampa.

Colon cancer screening isn’t just for people who might have a concern. It’s just as important for healthy people, even if you don’t have any symptoms.

Doctors recommend adults should get their first colonoscopy near their 45th birthday. Some people at higher risk — including those with some digestive disorders or a family history of colon cancer — should be tested even earlier.  According to the American Cancer Society, colorectal cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer deaths among people in the United States, so it’s important to keep up with regular colonoscopies.

“I understand life gets busy, but trust me, the time and effort you invest in these screenings don’t compare to the potential consequences of undetected colon cancer,” said Dr. Ahmed Allawi, colorectal surgeon with AdventHealth Tampa. By being preventive, you can find issues and treat them right away, which reduces your risk of ever developing cancer.

There are other tools to find colon cancer, but there are drawbacks that can make them less effective than colonoscopies. Some look at only part of the colon, others miss small tumors, while still others can detect cancer but cannot prevent it.

Some people are afraid of getting a colonoscopy, but the experience has improved greatly in recent years. The preparation typically involves a laxative the day before the procedure with a sports beverage to wash it down and keep the body’s electrolytes in balance.

“It might not be the most pleasant appointment, but its importance cannot be overstated,” said Allawi.

The procedure itself happens under sedation; most patients are sleeping soundly while it’s happening.

Make sure to talk to a doctor if you have any narrowing in the width of stool, blood in stool, weight loss or abdominal pain. Again, reporting these symptoms early could mean the difference between spotting cancer when effective treatments exist or waiting until it’s too late.

“No one should die from a preventable disease. Colonoscopies are a short procedure to prevent colon cancer,” said Dr. Kim-Phung Nguyen, colorectal surgeon with AdventHealth Tampa.

Taking steps to protect yourself against colorectal cancer not only protects your body, but it also gives you peace of mind. Learn more about AdventHealth’s colorectal care services at www.colorectalexperts.com.

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