Siouxland doctor says patients shouldn't worry about getting a c - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

Siouxland doctor says patients shouldn't worry about getting a colonoscopy

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Dr. Jeff Michalak reminds patients that getting a colonoscopy can save your life. Dr. Jeff Michalak reminds patients that getting a colonoscopy can save your life.

March is Colon Cancer Awareness month. One Siouxland doctor says it's a reminder to schedule your colonoscopy if you're due for one.  

Doctor Jeff Michalak says we all have about a five percent chance of getting colon cancer.
One way to catch it early is a colonoscopy.

"If a colonoscopy is done early that can obviously be diagnostic but therapeutic as well because these polyps and early cancers can be removed endoscopically and therefore no surgery and no radiation or chemo therapy is even needed," says Dr. Michalak, a gastroenterologist with Mercy Medical Center in Sioux City.

He says the average person should have a colonoscopy or some sort of colorectal cancer screening by the age of 50.  But according to the American Cancer Society, only about half of Americans actually do.

"People don't like to talk about colonoscopy from the stand point that they don't want to have it done," says Dr. Michalak.  "They don't want to go through the prep.  Other people, I think, just have the fear of what might be found during the colonoscopy and so I think that's why some people don't want to have it done."

But Dr. Michalak says you should get it done.  A colonoscopy could save your life.
"It's been shown to actually decrease mortality by over 50 percent," says Dr. Michalak.

If you have other risk factors like a family history, if you're overweight, if you have changes in bowel habits, if you smoke, or if you eat an unhealthy diet, your doctor might recommend the test before you're 50.  If you have any of the signs and symptoms of colon cancer, it's time to make an appointment with your doctor.

Dr. Michalak says the test is nothing to worry about.

"The fear of colonoscopy, I think unfortunately, is blown out of proportion," says Dr. Michalak.  "Nobody runs around saying, 'Oh, I had a colonoscopy and it went great and they removed polyps and that is going to save my life and help me live longer,' so I think that unfortunately is why people have the fear of it."

Dr. Michalak says there is a one in 5,000 chance of a complication during a colonoscopy.  He says that is such a small risk and it shouldn't keep you from getting the test.

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