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Colorectal cancer is the third leading cause of death in the United States, but it’s highly treatable if detected early and largely preventable with regular screenings. While screenings have been found to reduce the risk of colorectal cancer by nearly 80 percent, people still find excuses not to get screened. Dr. Scott Gelman, Summit Health gastroenterologist who practices in Florham Park and Randolph says, “Health screenings are effective ways to detect disease early even when there have been no symptoms or signs, and a colonoscopy is a very effective, worthwhile screening tool.”

Dr. Gelman has heard every excuse in the book when it comes to avoiding colonoscopies, but with his experience and expertise, he is quick to offer these counterpoints:


I’m scared of the actual test.

“Colonoscopy is a safe procedure when performed by experienced specialists. Sedation through an IV ensures there is no discomfort during the exam, and the risk of issues such as bleeding or perforation is exceedingly low. ”


I have no symptoms.

“Most colon polyps and colon cancers have no symptoms until they are more advanced. Colon cancer, if detected early, is very treatable and decreases the risk of death. Additionally, colonoscopy can help detect and remove polyps thus preventing cancer even before it develops.”


I have no family history of cancer.

“Most colorectal cancers are found in people without a family history of colorectal cancer. In fact, polyps are quite common - detected in 30 percent of men and 20 percent of women.”


It will cost too much.

“Most screening colonoscopies are covered as preventative and therefore aren’t subject to copays and deductibles. The cost of treating colon cancer is much greater.”


I don’t have the time.

“The procedure requires very little time commitment - only a few hours. And if the results are normal, the average risk person needs to continue with the procedure only once every ten years. And for our patients’ convenience, Summit Health offers coloscopies on the weekends. ”


I’m scared of the prep.

The preparations have improved over the years and there are a lot more options to make it bearable. While it may be challenging for a day or two, it’s better than letting an issue go undetected.””


I’m embarrassed to do it.

“You won’t die from embarrassment, but you could die from colon cancer.”