Don’t listen to the Rumor Mill: 5 Reasons Why I Got a Colonoscopy


There are some great things about March: St. Patrick’s Day celebrations (I’m a wee bit Irish), binge-watching college basketball’s March Madness, daylight saving time when we finally aren’t driving home from work in the dark, and the first day of Spring. One other observance that isn’t near as “fun,” but can help make enjoying all the above things possible is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month.

That’s right. I’m talking about a whole month set aside to raise awareness about the importance of getting a screening test for colorectal cancer, sometimes called colon cancer. But the screening tests, especially colonoscopies, have a problem: they have a bad reputation. I’m here to share my top 5 reasons why you should get tested for colorectal cancer, and hopefully dispel some of those bad rumors:

  1. Colonoscopies save lives. This testing can help find cancer early when it may be easier to treat or cure. By the time you get symptoms, the cancer may have grown and spread, making it harder to treat.
  2. It’s really not that bad. I’ll give it to you, prepping for a colonoscopy is no fun and inconvenient, but the exam itself is done under sedation in less than an hour!
  3. You have options. There are a few different tests used to find polyps or colorectal cancer: colonoscopy, flexible sigmoidoscopy, CT colonoscopy, or stool tests. Talk to your doctor about the pros and cons of each test and how often you should be tested.
  4. Colon cancer screening puts you in the driver's seat. Getting a colonoscopy is one of the easiest ways to take a proactive approach to your health. This is especially important since early colon cancer doesn’t really have any symptoms or warning signs.
  5. It’s a 2 for 1. Colonoscopies are the Mac Daddy of cancer screening tests! Today’s screening tests can not only find colon cancer early when it’s easier to treat but can also prevent you from getting colon cancer.

If you’re 45 or over and still unconvinced that you need to get a colonoscopy, consider this stat: colorectal cancer is the second deadliest cancer of men and women combined in the United States, many of which could have been prevented. Like my new poster says, I know it sucks but do it anyway.

We can’t talk about Colorectal Cancer Month without mentioning the great work that is being done through CDC programs and campaigns. The CDC Screen for Life: National Colorectal Cancer Action Campaign has been promoting the importance of colorectal screening for men and women since 1999. As of August 2020, Screen for Life PSAs have generated over 21 billion media impressions encouraging early and regular colorectal cancer screenings. That’s a lot in the name of screenings!

In addition to Screen for Life, CDC’s Colorectal Cancer Control Program and National Comprehensive Cancer Control Program provide funding to state, local, and tribal health departments to implement strategies for screening awareness. Through programs like this, CDC is reaching more folks than ever to get screened for colorectal cancer.

For more information, you can also hear from my friend Jane about her thoughts on cancer screenings in the CDC Foundation’s new PSA and Cancer Screening Guide.

Steve Dunbar head shot-image.jpg
Steve Dunbar was a spokesperson for the Preventing Infections in Cancer Patients program’s recent cancer screening campaign.