with Dr. Shaun Melarvie, surgeon at Door County Medical Center Surgical Services
Excluding skin cancers, colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer diagnosed in both men and women in the United States. It is also one of the most avoidable and preventable. Colonoscopy, a procedure which allows your doctor to look at the inner lining of your large intestine, is the current “gold standard” for the detection and prevention of colon cancer.
Q: When do I need a colonoscopy?
Dr. Melarvie: For most people, a first annual colonoscopy is recommended at age 50. However, if you have a family history of colon cancer, talk to your doctor, as you should have a colonoscopy at a younger age.
Q: Should I be nervous about the procedure?
Dr. Melarvie: No, colonoscopy is a common procedure and the technology has advanced greatly in recent years. With more efficient “preps,” most patients are surprised at how easy the procedure is. Colonoscopy is a well-tolerated procedure that causes less bloating and discomfort than ever.
Unlike most hospitals, DCMC has full-time anesthesiologists who participate in the procedure and focus completely on the patient. The results are worth it: removing non-cancerous polyps is part of the procedure, which can prevent colon cancer.
Q: What if I don’t want a colonoscopy?
Dr. Melarvie: There are a variety of non-invasive tests that can be effective, including stool testing and virtual colonoscopy. Your surgeon will work with you to determine the best test for your medical history and personal preferences.
Q: Do I need to travel to get this test?
Dr. Melarvie: The surgeons at Door County Medical Center have been performing this procedure for more than 30 years, with excellent results. In fact, our polyp detection rate is greater than the national standard. And having the test close to home increases comfort and efficiency for the patient.