Do your patients cringe when you suggest a routine colonoscopy? You are not alone. It is a common perception of colonoscopy, as many gastroenterologists see their patients clench up at the mere thought of the procedure.
Colonoscopy is an important screening test for colorectal cancer, of course, but a large percentage of patients skip the procedure. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that about one in three adults aged 50 to 75 had not undergone any type of colorectal cancer testing as recommended by the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF).
Negative attitudes about colonoscopy may contribute to non-attendance. Worse still, negative perceptions about this important screening test may ultimately prevent patients from getting the care they need during the early stages of colorectal cancer. This is particularly critical as early detection is when the disease is most treatable.
Barriers to colorectal screening include patients’ embarrassment about the procedure, anxiety over the prep, concerns about complications, and even fear about learning that they have cancer. Fortunately, you can take steps to improve public perception of colonoscopy.