It's a pain-free procedure. But only 5% of the population will develop colorectal cancer. Unless, of course, you happen to have a member of your family who has had colorectal cancer; then your chances of developing cancer are dramatically increased.
So why don't more people follow their doctor's suggestion to have a colonoscopy? Or why don't people request a referral for a colonoscopy from their family physicians?
Physicians are reluctant to prescribe the procedure because it's relatively expensive (until you consider the treatment alternatives after you're diagnosed). From the patient perspective, it is a potentially risky procedure, but complications are so rare that most physicians will never encounter anyone whose has suffered a complication brought on by a colonoscopy. Finally, doctors simply aren't doing a good enough job of recommending and prescribing the procedure.
The most important message I wish to convey from my Unwanted Journey entries is to have a colonoscopy. If you wait until you've had symptoms, then your chances of surviving are reduced to about 50% (I'm certainly optimisitic that I'm in the 50% who will survive). Far too many people, including members of my own family, are playing the odds. And why? Mainly because they don't like the idea of bowel preparation. Granted, not a fun time, but it is pain free, just like the procedure itself.
In a few weeks' time I'll be in Las Vegas. I might even play a few slot machines or gamble at some card games while there. I'll be thinking about odds, to be sure. But when it comes to whether or not to have a colonoscopy, the odds are decidely in favour of having the procedure.