Alyssa Milano Gets Colonoscopy
- Alyssa Milano, 48, shared some exciting news on Twitter, revealing that she would be getting her first colonoscopy.
- “I’m getting my first colonoscopy tomorrow. TMI?” wrote the actress in a post shared on Tuesday. “I don’t care. Colonoscopies save lives.”
- A colonoscopy is considered the most thorough and effective at preventing and catching early-stage colorectal cancer. Other colorectal screenings include stool tests and a sigmoidoscopy, which checks a portion of your colon. Virtual colonoscopies may also be an option for some.
“I’m getting my first colonoscopy tomorrow. TMI?” wrote the actress in a post shared on Tuesday. “I don’t care. Colonoscopies save lives.”Read More
Milano has been candid about her health, chronicling many struggles via social media.
In July, Milano shared that she takes medication daily for anxiety and panic disorder. She suggested destigmatizing taking medication for mental health saying, “I think it’s time we destigmatize medication for mental health, like we’ve destigmatized, I don’t know, say, Botox?”
Milano also contracted COVID in April 2020 and has documented her struggle with long haul COVID on social media.
Why Colorectal Screenings are Crucial
Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer affecting men and women in the United States, and the second most deadly. The American Cancer Society estimates that more than 104,000 new cases of colon cancer and more than 45,000 new cases of rectal cancer will be diagnosed in 2021.
As grim as the numbers are, the good news is that colorectal cancer is often preventable with regular screenings. In fact, research shows that as many as one third of all colon cancer deaths could be prevented with regular screenings.
What Is a Colorectal Screening?
The most common form of colorectal screening is a colonoscopy. In this procedure, a camera is attached to a long, thin tube which allows a doctor to look throughout your entire colon and rectum.
To prepare for a colonoscopy, you must first clean out your bowel with a strong, prescription laxative known as a “bowel prep” the night before. On the day of the procedure, you’ll typically be sedated, and the procedure generally takes between 20 minutes and an hour.
While performing a colonoscopy, the doctor is looking for polyps, which could potentially turn cancerous if not removed. If they don’t find any, you’re in the clear, and don’t need another colonoscopy for 10 years. If they find any polyps during the colonoscopy, they may be able to remove them during the procedure, though others may require surgery to be removed. Your doctor will also likely recommend more frequent screenings if any polyps are found.
Other colorectal screenings include stool tests and a sigmoidoscopy, which checks a portion of your colon. Virtual colonoscopies may also be an option for some. Your doctor can help determine the best test for you, but in general, a colonoscopy is considered the most thorough and effective at preventing and catching early-stage cancer.
Who Needs to Be Screened for Colorectal Cancer?
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends that people between the ages of 45-75 get screened regularly for colorectal cancer, and that those older than 75 talk to their doctor about their need for screening. As rates of colon cancer have increased among younger Americans, however, some experts believe screening should begin sooner.
There are some things that may put you at higher risk for colon cancer. They include things like your age (those age 50 and older are more likely to get it) and having a family history of colon cancer. There are, however, also risk factors that you can control to some degree. For example, the following may put you at higher risk for colon cancer:
- An unhealthy diet
- Heavy alcohol use
- Being overweight
- Physical inactivity
While there may be no symptoms of colon cancer in its earliest stages, there are some common warning signs, including a change in the color or shape of bowel movements, constipation, bloating, diarrhea, blood in the stool and unexplained weight loss. Anyone who experiences these symptoms, no matter their age or risk factors, should see their doctor.
Colorectal Screening: The Results
After the colonoscopy, any polyps that were found will be tested further to determine if they’re cancerous. This process may take a week or more while the tissue is examined. If cancer is found, then further testing will be required to determine how advanced the cancer is and if it has spread to other organs. Additional testing may also be required to determine if the cancer is genetic in nature, as this could affect your treatment plan.
As nerve wracking as waiting for the results may be, the good news is that most polyps that are removed are noncancerous. Also, the survival rates for colon cancer caught in the early stages are good, which is yet another reason why screenings are so important.