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While getting a colonoscopy may not be at the top of your list of most exciting things to do, you already know how important it is in the prevention and detection of colorectal cancer. But chances are, you may not even realize you need one.

People avoid getting colonoscopies for various reasons – some are embarrassed, some are worried about the process, some don’t think they need it. And then others are worried about the results. Modern advancements actually help to put much this to rest.

Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death among men and women, furthering the need to confront some myths head on.

Myth 1: Colonoscopies hurt.

It is rare for a colonoscopy to be painful. Most patients are consciously sedated and don’t remember hardly any of it. One of the most common sensations felt by the few who express discomfort after the procedure explain it as the need to have a bowel movement.

Myth 2: I don’t have any symptoms, so I don’t need a colonoscopy.

Though colonoscopies are recommended for those over age 50, anybody is at risk of developing colorectal cancer. In fact, colorectal cancer rarely presents symptoms until the disease has progressed. The good news? Screening via colonoscopies could help prevent 60% of colorectal cancer deaths. Talk to your medical professional if you are under 50 years of age and are concerned you may need one.

Myth 3: The preparation for a colonoscopy is the worst.

If you’ve never had a colonoscopy, here’s the scoop: you need to empty your bowels before the procedure. To do so, you should follow a colonoscopy-prep diet for a full day before the procedure: no solid foods, drink clear liquids, and no consuming dairy. Also before the procedure, you’ll be given an electrolyte solution to helpfully clear your bowels.

Try to keep in mind why you’re having the procedure done: to ensure you’re living well and will continue to live well without colorectal cancer. Colonoscopy prep is nothing compared to colorectal cancer.

While colonoscopies are important, the American Cancer Society offers some tips to use outside of your regular colonoscopy timeframe to prevent colorectal cancer:

¦ Maintain a healthy weight

¦ Keep a regular fitness regimen

¦ Quit smoking

¦ Reduce your intake of red or processed meat and alcohol

¦ Increase your consumption of fruits, vegetables and whole-grain fiber

Michele Sobeck is a gastroenterology nurse practitioner at Aurora Medical Center-Bay Area in Marinette. Her office can be reached at 715-735-4690.