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Myths and Facts about Colonoscopies

Read Time: 2 minutes

Updated March 2022
Originally Published March 2015

Everybody age 45 or over should talk to their doctor about a colonoscopy screening. If your doctor has recommended you get a colonoscopy but you’re dreading it, check out these myths and facts. Remember, a colonoscopy could save your life.

A colonoscopy is a screening that looks for polyps, or growths, inside your rectum and colon that could be cancerous or turn into cancer. It can prevent cancer by removing these growths or catch it early, when it’s easier to treat. At age 45, all adults should be screened unless recommended earlier by a doctor.

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Common Myths

Myth: That prep stuff is too gross to drink

Fact: Today’s bowel prep can be mixed into your favorite sports drink, clear soda, or juice so it tastes better.

Myth: The prep takes forever

Fact: Preparing your body for a colonoscopy begins the afternoon before your appointment.

Myth: It's going to hurt

Fact: Your doctor will give you a sedative to make you more comfortable. A lighted scope is inserted once you are sedated. Many patients don’t remember the procedure at all.

Myth: I don't need a colonoscopy until I have cancer symptoms

Fact: Most pre-cancers are found in people who don’t have pain or symptoms. Symptoms can mean the cancer is more advanced and harder to treat.

Myth: Getting a colonoscopy is humiliating

Fact: Thinking about a colonoscopy might be unpleasant, but you can expect a private and respectful experience. Your care team will make you as comfortable as possible.

Myth: I can't afford to get screened

Fact: The average person needs a colonoscopy every 10 years starting at age 45. Most people may only need three colonoscopies in their life, and most are covered by insurance.

Cancer touches all of us.