Why You Shouldn’t Put Off Getting Your First Colonoscopy: A Patient’s Perspective
Avoiding his colonoscopy was a risk that Carmen Scotese, 61, of Washington Township, was not willing to take. Taking his family history of polyps into consideration, he had his first colonoscopy at the recommended age of 50.
“It seems like a common mindset for people to wait until years after they turn 50, either because they’re scared, embarrassed, or don’t care,” said Scotese. “I just wanted to knock it out. I didn’t know much about the procedure the first time around, but I wasn’t too worried.”
Because his first colonoscopy revealed a polyp, Scotese has repeated the procedure multiple times. His most recent colonoscopy in January was performed by Jefferson Health Gastroenterologist Dr. Drew Chiesa.
“Each time gets easier and easier,” explained Scotese. “It’s important to know that it’s not a painful procedure. I honestly find root canals scarier.”
Scotese noted that the prep is always the worst part, while the colonoscopy itself is a “piece of cake.”
Many people, like Scotese, don’t enjoy preparing for the procedure, because it involves taking a prescription laxative or bowel cleansing prep.
At Jefferson Health, this prep is typically split-dosage, meaning part is taken the night before, and the rest the morning of. Patients will also be given a modified diet to follow. It’s important to follow these instructions so that the colon is thoroughly cleaned, allowing the physician to get the clearest and most beneficial visual during the procedure.
“It’s not a lot to drink, quantity wise,” explained Scotese. “It’s really just the taste that is difficult to handle. Personally, I have to start the prep fairly early in the day. The second part of the prep makes me the most uncomfortable, but everyone reacts differently to it.”
“While the prep was different from colonoscopies I’ve had in the past, Dr. Chiesa said it was extremely effective at cleaning me out,” continued Scotese. “Of course, I received great care from Dr. Chiesa. He communicates clearly and made me more comfortable and confident before and after the procedure. I won’t hesitate to see him again.”
The recovery period after a colonoscopy is only a few hours. Scotese explained that by the morning after, you’re back to your normal routine.
Similar to other cancers, screening is one of the most powerful tools in the early detection and prevention of colon cancer. It’s dangerous to wait too long after the recommended age, as polyps can turn cancerous over time.
“Don’t wait and put it off. Get your colonoscopy as young as you can to make sure there are no problems,” said Scotese. “If you wait and you do have an issue, it might be a little too late. Also, the earlier you get your first colonoscopy, the more likely it is that you won’t need another one for a long time.”