To have one . . . or not to have one? That is the question swirling in the minds of those who have reached that distinctive age of 50, the age at which it is recommended to have a colonoscopy. And it is not about being ‘nobler’ than the next guy, but all about having to ‘suffer’ through the preconceived inconvenience of the procedure.
St. Francis Hospital & Health Services has taken steps to lessen the anxieties of those considering this important screening including purchasing of a third colonoscope with funds raised at the 2009 Tobin Benefit Golf Classic.
According to the Missouri Cancer Registry, colorectal cancer has highest cancer incidence rate for both sexes in Nodaway County. It is one of the primary causes of cancer-related deaths in the United States, leading to over 50,000 fatalities every year. However, colorectal cancer is unique in that it is preventable with early detection. It is usually slow growing, and the first sign of potential colorectal cancer is often a precancerous polyp or lesion. Since polyps in the colon can develop into cancer, early detection is essential.
Colonoscopy is the key to early detection and prevention. People without specific risk factors should have their first colonoscopy at the age of 50 and subsequent colonoscopies every 10 years thereafter. Anyone with identified risk factors, such as family history, should be screened earlier and more frequently.
At St. Francis, two full-time general surgeons perform colonoscopies four days a week. In April, a third general surgeon will be joining the St. Francis Family Health Care staff who will also offer colonoscopy services.
With successful recruitment of surgeons over the past three years, the number of colonoscopies has increased to 572 in 2008 and 620 in 2009.
A third colonoscope will allow for enhanced services. "The third unit will increase our efficiency and enable us to evaluate a larger volume of patients," said general surgeon Dr. Shellie Faris.
With shorter waits to schedule a colonoscopy, plus faster turnaround time between cases, potential colonoscopy patients can be assured that this routine procedure is completed timely and safely. Colonoscopies generally take from 15 minutes to an hour to complete and are relatively pain free. If the physician notices anything of concern during a colonoscopy, a biopsy may be performed.
The new colonoscope, a long, thin, flexible instrument connected to a camera, includes a new high-resolution video display monitor. "The high-resolution monitor provides a more defined, clearer picture," Marsha Maudlin, RN, general surgery coordinator, advised.
At a cost of $25,155, the new colonoscope was fully funded by the 2009 Tobin Golf Classic proceeds. The balance of the 2009 golf earnings were placed in the St. Francis Hospital Foundation’s restricted surgery funds for future use.
With the third colonoscope in place, the surgery department is looking forward to seeing increased number for colorectal screenings. The faster turnaround time will alleviate the time and apprehension of waiting to schedule or undergo a colonoscopy.
So if you see someone, with chest puffed out, hands fisted on hips, looking satisfied with life – he or she probably had a colonoscopy and now feels outrageously fortunate to have conquered misgivings about experiencing this life-saving screening.
For more information on colorectal cancer, colonoscopies or other screening options, please contact the Community Relations/Development department at St. Francis Hospital & Health Services (660/562-7933) or visit their website at www.stfrancismaryville.com.