It’s OK to talk about colon cancer. In fact, not talking about it can lead to some confusing myths about the causes, symptoms and treatment of the condition. That’s why we asked two of our colorectal surgeons, Eilynn Sipe, MD, FACS, and Peter Klein, MD, FACS, to debunk some of the most common myths they hear from patients.
Myth 1: Only people with a history of colon cancer get colon cancer.
“Over 75% of the patients we see with colon cancer as a new diagnosis have a history of colon cancer,” said Dr. Sipe, but that doesn’t mean that only those with a family history get it. If you do have a family history of colon cancer (your mother, father, sibling or child) then it’s recommended that you get screened more often. “It is recommended every five years, or ten years younger than diagnosis [of your family member],” explained Dr. Sipe.
Myth 2: Colon cancer is fatal.
“Colon cancer is actually very treatable,” assured Dr. Klein. “If we find colon cancer early at the beginning stages, we can cure it more than 90% of the time.” This is why screening is so important. If it’s not detected until the cancer has grown and spread, it’s still very treatable but the chance for cure has gone down.
Myth 3: A colonoscopy is a difficult procedure to have.
Colonoscopies can cause anxiety, especially if you are nervous about the prep, but this has actually become easier over the years. “There’s a prep now where you can do only pills,” said Dr. Sipe. “There’s some where you do small volumes of liquid, and most don’t require any enemas at all.” You will, however, need a driver because moderate sedation is used for the procedure. “The test only takes about 20-30 minutes, you’ll have an IV and generally won’t remember or feel much about the procedure at all,” assured Dr. Sipe.
More myths, busted!
What are the rest of the myths Dr. Sipe and Klein busted? View all six myths in the videos below.