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Dr. Ryan Williams is a colorectal surgeon at the Cleveland Clinic who specializes in the treatment of diseases of the colon and rectum. He is a graduate of Albion College in Michigan and Michigan State University’s medical school.

Colonoscopy: What’s stopping you?

Colon cancer is one of the most common types of cancers – one in eighteen Americans will be diagnosed this year with colon cancer.

Up to 85% of colon cancers could be prevented or successfully treated if everyone who is eligible for a colonoscopy got screened. Colon cancer is preventable, and if detected early it is also one of the most curable.

Dr. Williams shares the three most common reasons that may stop people from getting their colonoscopy.

If I don’t have any symptoms, I don’t need to get screened for colon cancer.

FALSE! Colon cancer grows from precancerous polyps that rarely cause symptoms. A colonoscopy screens for polyps and remove them so they can’t become cancerous.

I don’t have any family history of colon cancer, I don’t need to get a colonoscopy.

FALSE! Colon cancer rates are on the rise in a surprising age group: people age 20 to 49. Experts think this alarming trend may be due to poor diet and rising obesity rates. Don’t ignore symptoms, such as rectal bleeding – don’t assume you have hemorrhoids if you see blood on the toilet paper or in the toilet. Tell your physician so he or she can assess you immediately.

Keep your colon healthy: eat fresh fruits and vegetables and other high fiber foods, and exercise regularly. Standard guidelines suggest colonoscopies starting at age 50. Screening is recommended in African-Americans beginning at age 45 years (colonoscopy is the preferred screening strategy).

I’m afraid of the procedure – what is there’s a problem? What if it’s painful?

Colonoscopy is extremely safe in the hands of experts – make sure you have a skilled endoscopist when you go in for a colonoscopy. With conscious sedation, 99% of patients are comfortable during the colonoscopy.

Click over to see Dr. Williams’ answers to your questions.

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