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Have you had your Colonoscopy? March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month

Gastroenterology Article   (1,135 Views 15 Comments 700 Words)
by Brenda F. Johnson Brenda F. Johnson (Member) Writer Verified

Brenda F. Johnson has 25 years experience and works as a RN at Gi Lab.

17 Likes; 5 Followers; 70 Articles; 103,435 Visitors; 244 Posts

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As nurses, we understand the importance of health screenings. We check our eyes, do blood work, and get pap smears, but over the years we have added colonoscopy to the list. Getting a colonoscopy can save a person’s life. March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month, and the goal is to educate people about colon cancer and eliminate the stigma surrounding colonoscopies.

Have you had your Colonoscopy?  March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month

I’ve been a GI nurse for about 25 of my 27 years of nursing and I have seen a multitude of changes take place.  The proficiency of a colonoscopy has improved as scopes have become more flexible with high definition cameras that lead to an increased adenoma detection rate. Now that screening colonoscopy is paid for by insurance, more people are getting one and lives are being saved.  But there still remains a societal imputation around the test that hopefully over time will disappear with education and awareness.

March 24 - 28 is GI nurses week this year, so if you know a GI nurse, please celebrate with them.  SGNA is the national organization for GI nurses that sets the guidelines for standards of practice and provides many services with the most important being education about gastroenterology.  

There are many opportunities in your community to serve as a volunteer or participant at a colon cancer awareness event.  Here in Chattanooga, we have the Rump Run on March 9th. It is a run or walk event with a bouncy house and face painting for the kids, and a large colon to walk through that exhibits different types of colon polyps and cancers.  Colon cancer survivors are the highlighted guests of the day as they share their stories to help spread awareness. It is a fun way to spend a Saturday morning.

The reason a colon screening is so important is that very often there are no symptoms when a person has colon cancer.  There may not be any visible bleeding or pain and therefore some cases of colon cancer are not detected until there is an occluding tumor or metastasis.  Educate your circle of friends and family to talk to their doctor about when they should get a colonoscopy. The first time screening is at age 50 except for African Americans who should get one at 45, and of course those with a family history.

Some of you may have read or heard that colon cancer is on the increase in younger people. The highest increase has been seen in the age group of 20s. Although the exact cause is not known, genetics and environmental factors are thought to play a role. These younger patients are more likely to die from the diagnosis than older patients (Priedt, 2018).

Some signs and symptoms that we can tell our patients to watch for is blood in the stool, diarrhea and constipation, abdominal cramps, and the feeling that aren’t empty after a bowel movement.  If one of your patients, friends or family has unexplained weight loss, fatigue, and jaundice, make sure they make an appointment to see their doctor right away. These are signs of advanced colon cancer and they need to be addressed.

Most of us have known someone affected by colon cancer, and the fright that diagnosis can bring. We lift up those going through the trenches of surgery, chemo and radiation in our prayers.  Also, we celebrate the survivors, those who have been in the pit and are now on the other side. Many survivors give back by telling their story and educating their community. March is the month to highlight these wonderful people and one by one, save a life.

I am proud to be a GI nurse and I learn something all the time.  I have come to respect the GI system and how important it is to our bodies.  Research is continually realizing all that the GI system does for us and how we treat it is so important.  What we eat and drink really does matter. Celebrate Colon Cancer awareness month in your unit or office this year and make it an annual event.  Participate or volunteer in a local event, it is rewarding and not to mention a lot of fun!

Are you a colon cancer survivor?  If so, please share your story with us.

Reference

Preidt, R. Colon Cancer Hits Younger Adults Especially Hard, 1 Oct, 2108. Healthday Reporter. Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/colorectal-cancer/news/20131001/colon-cancer-hits-younger-adults-especially-hard-study-finds#1

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17 Likes; 5 Followers; 70 Articles; 103,435 Visitors; 244 Posts

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SafetyNurse1968 has 20 years experience as a ADN, BSN, MSN, PhD and works as a Assistant Professor.

68 Likes; 7 Followers; 33 Articles; 11,292 Visitors; 183 Posts

I was approaching my 50th birthday with trepidation - knowing part of that birthday involves a colonoscopy. Much to my surprise, they handed me a card to "poop on" instead (sorry for my scatological humor, can't help it.) I was assured the card is as good a screen as the colonoscopy. Curious as to what others think and what other folks have experienced?

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OldDude works as a School Nurse.

895 Likes; 5 Followers; 1 Article; 27,715 Visitors; 4,554 Posts

My limited knowledge of this field obviously will prejudice my statement but the hemoccult cards will be positive for blood in the stool...which means there is a source for the blood requiring further testing. The full blown visual tour of the colon would identify the source of such a positive hemoccult and thus go a long way toward the diagnosis of the issue.

Secondly, benign polyps can be removed during a colonoscopy that could prevent future cancer development. During my first routine colonoscopy the doctor removed a few polyps; all benign. Ten years (plus a few) later I had my 2nd colonoscopy and there were no polyps...squeaky clean colon.

So...I think the hemoccult cards are good for a snapshot of colon health but I'd rely more on the colonoscopy regarding prevention issues.

Excellent article Brenda, thank you!

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Brenda F. Johnson has 25 years experience and works as a RN at Gi Lab.

17 Likes; 5 Followers; 70 Articles; 103,435 Visitors; 244 Posts

8 hours ago, SafetyNurse1968 said:

I was approaching my 50th birthday with trepidation - knowing part of that birthday involves a colonoscopy. Much to my surprise, they handed me a card to "poop on" instead (sorry for my scatological humor, can't help it.) I was assured the card is as good a screen as the colonoscopy. Curious as to what others think and what other folks have experienced?

The hemocult card is in no way good enough.  It may not detect blood in that particular sample.  You need a colonoscopy, there is no substitute for a visual inspection.  Once you get past the prep for the test, the rest is a piece of cake (so to speak).  The standard of practice is a colonoscopy at 50, find a good Gastroenterologist and get it done.  🙂

 

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95 Likes; 5,507 Visitors; 635 Posts

I had one a few years ago, all was well. I waa so scared but nothing bad happened. I thought it would be a pain in the asz procedure but it wasn't.🤣

Edited by Workitinurfava

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Leader25 has 35 years experience.

55 Likes; 2 Followers; 4,235 Visitors; 660 Posts

I don't understand the guidelines,I had mine done all clear,etc,now at five years they want me to have one,and to make it worse they frightened me near death by sending a second reminder by certified letter. I told them why ,I was expecting to do one in 10 years,they said no(secretary) it is five years.Which is it ,from reading sigmoid  is five years,colonoscopy is 10.

Are they just trying to drum up business?.

 

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Cuttykupcake has 1 years experience.

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I’m nowhere near the age where it is “recommended” but I’ve had several now thanks to having ulcerative colitis. The prep is the worst part and always makes me vomit no matter what method I use. Wish there was an easier way to do it.

 

Now, my mom IS at the recommended age but refuses to have it done even though I’ve told her how important it is...

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beckyboo1 has 30 years experience.

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On 3/6/2019 at 10:03 AM, SafetyNurse1968 said:

I was approaching my 50th birthday with trepidation - knowing part of that birthday involves a colonoscopy. Much to my surprise, they handed me a card to "poop on" instead (sorry for my scatological humor, can't help it.) I was assured the card is as good a screen as the colonoscopy. Curious as to what others think and what other folks have experienced?

No no no!  It is not even in the same category.  Insist on a colonoscopy...and not a Cologuard either!  I wonder how out of touch your physician is about other medical conditions.  I can't even count how many times in my 2 years assisting with colonoscopies that I've seen colon cancer in ppl age 70+ who just never could see the need for one.  People are so afraid of the prep and my thought on that is always, do you think chemo-radiation-surgery-colostomy wouldn't be scary? 

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beckyboo1 has 30 years experience.

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On 3/6/2019 at 10:34 PM, Leader25 said:

I don't understand the guidelines,I had mine done all clear,etc,now at five years they want me to have one,and to make it worse they frightened me near death by sending a second reminder by certified letter. I told them why ,I was expecting to do one in 10 years,they said no(secretary) it is five years.Which is it ,from reading sigmoid  is five years,colonoscopy is 10.

Are they just trying to drum up business?.

 

Do you have family history?  That could be the reason.

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SafetyNurse1968 has 20 years experience as a ADN, BSN, MSN, PhD and works as a Assistant Professor.

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Thanks everyone, I'm going to insist on a colonoscopy next time. I appreciate you taking the time to CARE! much nurse love.

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traumaRUs has 25 years experience as a MSN, APRN and works as a Asst Community Manager @ allnurses.

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Has anyone done a colonoscopy without sedation? 

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beckyboo1 has 30 years experience.

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In my 2 years in a GI center, I've seen 3.  One only had a small portion of colon, one claimed he had no pain or discomfort, the other said it was very uncomfortable at times and he nearly had us stop and sedate him.   Why do you ask?

On 3/11/2019 at 6:55 PM, traumaRUs said:

Has anyone done a colonoscopy without sedation? 

 

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