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Watch Your Back: Get A Colonoscopy

Emily Tamberino

VAIL CO—March is National Colon Cancer Awareness Month but how much do you really want to be aware of your colon?

Answer: enough to keep it cancer free.

Colon cancer is preventable treatable and beatable and men and women over 50 are encouraged to get a colonoscopy every 10 years to find polyps—benign or noncancerous clumps of cells—before they become cancerous. Those with a family history of colon cancer should consider screening before age 50.

Dr. John Schultz is a surgeon with Mountain Surgical Associates at Vail Valley Medical Center. He explains how colon cancer unlike other cancers can actually be prevented.

“With colon cancer we can actually take out polyps before they ever lead to cancer” he says.

The colonoscopy procedure isn't so bad says Dr. Schultz and here are five reasons why:

1. You get cleaned out.

Schultz says the most extensive part of the preparation process begins the day before the colonoscopy. It's a full clearing of the bowels and the prep solution and clear liquid diet can make you uncomfortable and hungry but Schultz says a lot of patients take it as a sort of cleansing.

“You find all that bubble gum that's stuck in there” Schultz says “which some people actually look forward to.”

2. You'll have a great nap.

“We give the patients medication to put them to sleep” he explains. “People love it because it's a restful peaceful sleep and then they wake up after the procedure sometimes wondering when we're going to start!”

3. It gives you and your loved ones peace of mind.

Colon cancer is the third leading cause of cancer deaths among both men and women so getting the recommended screening saves your behind and your peace of mind.

Possibly the best part of getting a colonoscopy is the fact that you are preventing the possibility of getting colon cancer. Catching the polyps and clearing them out is the ideal way to alleviate worry and concern for this type of cancer — one that you can actually nip in the butt.

4. You'll be on the “good side” of the statistics.

The five-year survival rate for colon cancer found at the local stage is 90 percent and the five-year survival rate for the cancer found at the regional stage is 70 percent.

Once the cancer has become a distant stage the survival rates drop dramatically to 12 percent — so keep it local by getting screened at age 50 or when you're recommended to by a doctor.

5. It's a once-a-decade kind of thing.

You get your teeth cleaned every six months and wash your dishes every day but you only need to clean your colon and get it screened every 10 years and then after age 75 you can stop.

“For people who have average risk it's recommend that they get a colonoscopy once every 10 years — that's not so bad” Dr. Schultz says. “And who knows 10 years from now we might be using the Star Trek tricorder and won't need to use colonoscopies. Now however it's one of the best things you can do to prevent colon cancer from happening.”

Known for their expertise in the early detection and prevention of cancer Mountain Surgical Associates performs colonoscopies and endoscopies at Vail Valley Medical Center. To learn more visit Appointments can be scheduled by calling (970) 479-5036.

With some of the most respected surgeons in Colorado on our team Vail Valley Medical Center is fortunate to be the home of Mountain Surgical Associates (MSA). Known for their expertise in emergency and trauma care as well as the early detection and treatment of cancer MSA is open Monday through Friday 8 AM to 4:30 PM in Vail Edwards and Eagle. For more information visit