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Why I Love Colonoscopies (And You Should Too)

(ex_magician/flickr)

By Mary Mulkerin Donius
Guest Blogger

“Got a match? Yeah, your face and my, um, backside.”

That old insult comes to mind every time someone takes me aside to tell me they finally got a long-overdue colonoscopy or just scheduled one for a loved one. It happens all the time.

Ever since I was diagnosed and successfully completed eleven months of treatment for colorectal cancer at Massachusetts General Hospital, I feel like I’ve become a walking, talking reminder about the importance what The New York Times recently termed cancer’s “most unloved screening test.”

My face reminds friends, family members, colleagues and acquaintances to think about protecting their bottoms; it’s a role I’ve come to relish.

Just last month, a study in the New England Journal of Medicine proved what doctors have long suspected; that mortality is reduced by a whopping 53 percent in those who undergo colonoscopies and have pre-cancerous growths removed. It’s the strongest evidence yet that colonoscopies save lives. Despite the success of early detection and the steadily climbing cure rate of colorectal cancers in the past twenty years, only sixty percent of eligible adults get a colonoscopy, according to the American Cancer Society.

Okay, I’ll say it. That really bums me out.

March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. With all due respect to the folks who work hard on the cause, you’d never know it. There’s no little ribbon or bracelet. It’s a tough disease to build a cute little symbol around, I’ll concede. Continue reading