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All TopicsForum: High Risk of Recurrence or Second Breast Cancer → Topic: Do I Really Need to Have a Colonoscopy?

Topic: Do I Really Need to Have a Colonoscopy?

Forum: High Risk of Recurrence or Second Breast Cancer — Managing high recurrence risk of developing a second breast cancer.

Posted on: Feb 18, 2010 02:09AM

Jane_M wrote:

I mean, really?  Who wants to have a colonoscopy?  I'm the type to bury my head in the sand and hope things will go away, anyway.  Both my mom and grandmother had colon cancer.  My first colonoscopy about 11 years ago, they took out a benign polyp.  I had another colonoscopy about 8 years ago which was normal.  I was supposed to go back 6 years ago for another one, but they are soooo much fun, I didn't.  So, now I have breast cancer... DH wants me to have my PCP set me up for a colonoscopy,  Since I had a normal PET scan in August and normal tumor markers at the beginning of this month, my thoughts are that, if I had colon cancer, those would show it, right?  So, what do you think?  Am I safe, or should I bite the bullet and schedule the colonoscopy?

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Feb 18, 2010 02:12AM SoCalLisa wrote:

my doctor wanted me to get one too

and it is a good thing they took out a couple

of precancerous polyps

Biography: DX 11/2000 LCIS,DCIS,IDC 2B, Grade 1, ER+,PR+ Her2Neg 1 pos node Lumptectomy, CMF chemo X 6 mos, DX 8/2001, IDC same breast--Mastectomy , Left Breast Lumpectomy... Tamoxifen, one year...Armidex, Four years
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Feb 18, 2010 02:38AM awb wrote:

Jane---absolutely go for the colonoscopy! I also have a strong family history of colon ca (grandmother died of it, mom has had it twice along with bc)--I went for my first one at 46, within 7 months of bc diagnosis, and GI doc said "with your family history, it's a good thing you're here". They removed one polyp which was benign. I had another one last year (5 years apart) which was clear. My one sister and I are very diligent about going every 5 years, but I haven't been able to convince my older sister and brother to go for one. Everyone should have one at age 50 anyway, but with family history, they suggest 45 or even some suggest as young as 40. If you've already had them in the past, you know they're really not a big deal, so bite the bullet and do it!

Anne

"I don't know what the future holds, but I know who holds the future" Dx 9/5/2003, LCIS, Stage 0, 0/0 nodes Surgery 09/16/2003 Lumpectomy (Right) Hormonal Therapy 10/30/2003 Tamoxifen Surgery 04/05/2005 Prophylactic Ovary Removal (Both) Hormonal Therapy 02/28/2009 Evista
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Feb 18, 2010 04:04AM Mazy1959 wrote:

I have to get them..one coming up soon LOL. After I had the first 2 it wasnt so bad. Its a necessary thing. My first one found 2 precancerous polyps. Hugs

Bone marrow mets in 90% of bone marrow. Dx 3/6/2003, ILC, 3cm, Stage IIb, Grade 2, 2/9 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Dx 12/19/2006, ILC, 4cm, Stage IV, Grade 2, 0/0 nodes, mets, ER+/PR-, HER2- Dx 4/25/2012, ILC, Stage IV, Grade 2, 0/0 nodes, mets, ER+/PR+, HER2- Dx 8/4/2012, ILC, Stage IV, Grade 2, 0/0 nodes, mets, ER+/PR+, HER2- Chemotherapy 08/09/2012 Abraxane
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Feb 18, 2010 05:37AM , edited Feb 18, 2010 05:39AM by otter

Oh, Jane, I hear you!  I don't have a strong family hx of colon cancer, and my PCP never mentioned that I ought to have one ... so I quietly ignored all the glaring headlines about starting colon-cancer screening when we're 50.

... Until my PCP started to turn the screws.  Right in the middle of my adventures with chemo, he asked me if I'd had a colonoscopy.  I said "no".  He asked if I'd ever had "bleeding", and I said yes, occasionally, from what I was certain were hemorrhoids.  "Good!", he said (as if hemorrhoids could be good??) -- "That means your insurance will cover the colonoscopy!  I'll have our receptionist schedule one for you."

Wait.  WAIT!!!  I'm right in the middle of chemo, I pointed out.  Couldn't we at least wait until this nasty business is finished and my mucous membranes have healed up?

Anyway, i did have my first-ever colonoscopy at the age of 56, 5 months after finishing chemo.  I was lucky in so many ways...  They gave me very good drugs, so I don't recall waking up mid-procedure, there was absolutely no pain or "discomfort", and all they found were ... hemorrhoids.  The prep was really nasty -- I threw up 20 minutes after taking the 2nd dose of the stuff.  But, I've read that they don't even use that prep (phospho-soda) anymore, because of the risk it poses to our kidneys if we can't chug (and keep down) enough water before, during, and after.

So, 15 months later, my recollection was that I was comfortably woozy-headed as my dh escorted me to the car afterward, and I slept the rest of that day.  Like I said, though, I'm lucky -- I won't need another one for 8-1/2 more years.  If I had risk factors, or if they'd found anything suspicious, I'd be back on the calendar again. 

You've got to do this.  A PET scan and tumor markers are not going to detect those little nubbins that can end up becoming colon cancer.  And, you don't want to have colon cancer, right?  A colonoscopy is way easier to tolerate than what they'll do if you end up with colon cancer (as you know).

Hugs, though... It just seems like this stuff never ends.

otter 

Dx 2008, IDC, Stage Ia, Grade 2, 0/3 nodes, ER+/PR-, HER2-
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Feb 18, 2010 06:07AM Leah_S wrote:

I don't want to have a colonoscopy in the WORST way.

BC puts us at higher risk for colon ca.

My aunt died of colon ca.

My colonoscopy is scheduled for March 15.

The only good thing is that, when I went to schedule, they had a big sign saying you needed someone to take you home afterwards due to the sedating drugs used.

BRING ON THE SEDATING DRUGS!!!!!!!!!!

I will get through this I will get through this I will get through this I will get through this I will get through this I will get through this I will get through this I will get through this I will get through this

Leah

Dx 11/3/2008, IDC, 1cm, Stage IV, Grade 3, 6/17 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Feb 18, 2010 06:32AM barbe1958 wrote:

Well, I'm joining the rant here. Hate the process but need another one. My blood iron is so low that I have to take prescription iron pills. I was on multivitamins for years! Lot of good that did. Now the doc is wondering if I'm bleeding in my colon or somewhere else. it's not the process that's bad, it's the drugs for prepping! Yell I actually wrote a blog about the whole thing and let people who were going through the process have a preview. Wish I'd been warned...sigh. Just waiting for the appointment time now.

The first thing I wanted was a bacon-cheese-burger!

Religion is for people who are afraid of hell, spirituality is for people who have already been there. (Lakota Nation) Dx 12/10/2008
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Feb 18, 2010 07:12AM , edited Feb 18, 2010 08:40AM by Marple

My colonoscopy Dr. said because of b.c. I'm at a higher risk.  But now I can't remember how often he said.  Every 5 years?  I really did not mind the prep so much.  Re re edit to delete my personal experience which has nothing to do with your question.

Oh dear, edit to add.....Yes, get a colonoscopy.

Re edit to add.....despite any stories of discomfort.  BOOK AN APPT.

Dx 2006, IDC, Stage IIb, Grade 2, 1/14 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Feb 18, 2010 07:50AM barbe1958 wrote:

Sharon, were'nt you put out? I remember they did a scope down my throat too as I had stomach surgery when I was born and they started to intubate me while I was still too awake and I was choking! Horrid experience. They quickly put me out.

Religion is for people who are afraid of hell, spirituality is for people who have already been there. (Lakota Nation) Dx 12/10/2008
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Feb 18, 2010 07:52AM Harley44 wrote:

Janis

You need to have a colonoscopy...  the prep is AWFUL, but the test is easy... piece of cake...

After having breast cancer, we are at increased risk for colon cancer...

HUGS 

Harley

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Feb 18, 2010 07:53AM Harley44 wrote:

Barbe

They put me to sleep but other drs. don't... they just give you drugs to put you in a twilight kind of sleep..... so you are still awake...  my dr. put me OUT...

HARLEY

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Feb 18, 2010 08:09AM , edited Feb 18, 2010 08:11AM by JO-5

Janis,

I think by all the replies you know you should get the colonoscopy, especially since you have a family history. My husband has a family history and gets one every 5 - 6 years. If he had polyps it would be every 3 years!

 I didn't want one either!  I had to have one when I turned 55 so I knew what to expect.

I got many different opinions about BC and Colon cancer.  Cancer Dr. said there was no connection between BC and colon cancer -- just that once a person has had cancer it could crop up elsewhere. Gyn. said, Yes, it is necessary because women with BC sometimes get colon cancer. PCP said, No more chance of getting colon cancer because you had BC and if I did get colon cancer I was probably going to get it anyhow!

So -- called the Gastro Dr. and had mine in 05  Got an all clear - no polyps so I have to go back every 5 - 6 years now - because he says BC patients have a greater risk of getting colon cancer. I will be getting mine sometime this Spring. 

The prep is the bad part and even that wasn't so bad. I don't have to drink that half gallon of white stuff. My gastro has us use the little bottle of prep that you mix with water.  There are pills you can use, too. My niece can not drink any bad tasting liquid (she throws it right back up) and her dr gave her pills.

The procedure itself is over in no time and you can be knocked out for it. I let them knock me out! My son in law stays awake and  watches it on the screen!  ugh

NOW THE THING THAT IS BUGGING ME IS I AM GOING TO HAVE TO HAVE AN ENDOSCOPE OF MY ESOPHAGUS THIS TIME. He better do it while he has me out because I positively can not swallow a tube!

JO

dx.04 IDC, tumor 1.4 cm, stage 1, grade 3, lumpectomy w/clear margins, 0/16 nod es, ER+/ PR+ over 90,HER2 negative, 33 rads w/3 boosts, Arimidex 5 yrs. 2014 angiosarcoma from RT. removed entirely in biopsy, wide excision all clear.
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Feb 18, 2010 08:57AM barbe1958 wrote:

That's what I had JO, they will put you out because your gag reflex wouldn't allow it to go down.

Religion is for people who are afraid of hell, spirituality is for people who have already been there. (Lakota Nation) Dx 12/10/2008
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Feb 18, 2010 03:01PM , edited Feb 18, 2010 03:02PM by ruthbru

I found the colonosopy to be a piece of cake. I had one two years ago after I was done with treatment (yes, every 5 years according to my doctor). I was suprised that the prep was not that bad (I had a procedure done a number of years before when the prep WAS awful). My DH just had one a week ago, and now the prep is even easier. He had no cramps or discomfort at all, just went to the bathroom a couple extra times. So it's not bad; and as you really, really do not want to get colon cancer, it is well worth any hassle. Good Luck! Ruth

="post_sig">"Invisible threads are the strongest ties." Friedrich NietzscheDiagnosis: 2/2007, Stage IIa, Grade 3, 0/11 nodes, ER+/PR-, HER2-
"Invisible threads are the strongest ties." Friedrich Nietzsche Dx 2/2007, Stage IIa, Grade 3, 0/11 nodes, ER+/PR-, HER2-
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Feb 19, 2010 02:10AM JO-5 wrote:

Thanks Barbe - I know there is no way I could swallow that. I would end up fighting them! LOL

Jane --- I'm wondering if since reading all this -- have you decided to have the colonoscopy or have we scared you even more!?

I would say it is not as bad as you imagine and certainly not like what you have already been through. Colon cancer is one of the easiest treated if it is caught early!

JO

dx.04 IDC, tumor 1.4 cm, stage 1, grade 3, lumpectomy w/clear margins, 0/16 nod es, ER+/ PR+ over 90,HER2 negative, 33 rads w/3 boosts, Arimidex 5 yrs. 2014 angiosarcoma from RT. removed entirely in biopsy, wide excision all clear.
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Feb 19, 2010 02:17AM AnneW wrote:

Jane, I think you know the answer to that question! Smile

My mom died of colon cancer after surving breast cancer for 20 years. So you can bet that I get a scope every 5 years. I have to look at the prep day as just one day out of my life, to ensure life.

A PET scan may not show an early colon cancer. Some cancers are flat against the colon wall. Some are imbedded in tiny, benign appearing polyps. You need the trained eye of a GI doc. Or, you perhaps could do the virtual colonoscopy, where you swallow the tiny camera and it passes through your body. But that still requires the prep, and if there's an abnormality, you'll need to prep all over again for the scope/biopsy procedure.

You can get through this. A piece of cake compared to what you've already gone through!

Anne

2002 IDC stage 1, grade 1, rads & AI Dx 9/18/2007, ILC, <1cm, Stage I, Grade 1, 0/1 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Feb 19, 2010 02:18AM arnie2two wrote:

I had my last one between chemo and rads in October....  My dad died of colon cancer and his onocologist told all of kids to take atleast 400 mcg of Folic Acid daily.  I have too, every since 1998!  I figure just like my bc if they catch something early you have a fighting chance!!!  Let us know what you have decided Jane.... (((((((((((hugs))))))))))

Live well, love much, laugh often!
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Feb 19, 2010 02:20AM Harley44 wrote:

Jane,

Sorry, I mistyped your name...  

((HUGS))

Please go get your colonoscopy... it really is not bad...

Harley

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Feb 19, 2010 04:57AM lvtwoqlt wrote:

When I went to my doctor last fall for my phys he said that since I was close to that certain age, I needed to consider getting one done. Haven't been back to see him or had it done it yet Undecided. I see him again next week, I will see what he says this time, I have no problems to indicate anything is wrong.

Sheila

Women are like tea bags, we don't know how strong we are until we were thrown into hot water. Eleanore Roosevelt Diagnosed ADH Feb 2005, ADH Sept 2006 Dx 4/27/2007, DCIS, Stage 0, Grade 1, 0/7 nodes Surgery 02/12/2005 Lumpectomy (Left) Surgery 09/10/2006 Lumpectomy (Right) Hormonal Therapy 10/12/2006 Tamoxifen Surgery 06/01/2007 Mastectomy (Both)
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Feb 19, 2010 05:26AM Jane_M wrote:

As I've already had 2, I know what to expect.  I just thought I might be able to justify having one less test.  So, I guess I'll mention it to my PCP at my next apt.  I'm sure he'll refer me to the gastroenterologist who did my last 2 and told me I needed another one 6 years ago.

"Courage is not the absence of fear. It is acting in spite of it." Mark Twain Dx 8/13/2008, IDC, 5cm, Stage IIIb, Grade 3, 7/20 nodes, ER+/PR-, HER2-
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Feb 22, 2010 11:14AM PiscesMoon wrote:

the prep part is the worst.  i have moviprep.  sort of bad tasting but if you chill it and drink it with a straw there's no problem.  they biopsied a couple of areas but they were b9.  i was completely asleep and don't remember a thing.  GI doc wants me back in two years.  i have a grandmother who died of colon cancer but i don't know if my bio mother gets screened for it or not.  i'll have to ask her.

~M

DX: 11/13/09; IDC, 3.5 cm, Stage 2, Grade 2, 0/2 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2+++ ~mellow greetings, citizen...what seems to be your boggle?~
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Feb 22, 2010 02:45PM susan_CNY wrote:

please do go for the colonoscopy, my breast cancer was dx a year after surgery and chemo for stage 2 colon cancer, you really are at risk, better safe than sorry

dx 4/1984 cervical /hyst 10/2002 stage 2 colon /hemi-colectomy/5FU and Leukovorin chemo 11/2003 stage 1 bc tumor 1.6 grade 3 no nodes, possible vascular invasion / lumpectomy and rads 7/2009 lumpectomy found to be benign
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Feb 22, 2010 03:09PM SoCalLisa wrote:

I had both an upper endoscopy and a colonoscopy done one right after the other without any meds...believe I did the second time around...

Biography: DX 11/2000 LCIS,DCIS,IDC 2B, Grade 1, ER+,PR+ Her2Neg 1 pos node Lumptectomy, CMF chemo X 6 mos, DX 8/2001, IDC same breast--Mastectomy , Left Breast Lumpectomy... Tamoxifen, one year...Armidex, Four years
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Feb 22, 2010 11:02PM barbe1958 wrote:

Lisa! How did you swallow that huge scope??? Surprised
Religion is for people who are afraid of hell, spirituality is for people who have already been there. (Lakota Nation) Dx 12/10/2008
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Feb 22, 2010 11:08PM Merilee wrote:

OK I am dreading even asking, since I have not had one.  What is the "prep" you are all saying is awful? What do they do to you?

breastcancerbeast.blogspot.com & downsyduderescueranch.blogspot... Dx 4/4/2011, ILC, 1cm, Stage I, 0/9 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Feb 22, 2010 11:12PM barbe1958 wrote:

They clean your intestines out for 3 days!

Religion is for people who are afraid of hell, spirituality is for people who have already been there. (Lakota Nation) Dx 12/10/2008
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Feb 22, 2010 11:44PM Merilee wrote:

With what?

breastcancerbeast.blogspot.com & downsyduderescueranch.blogspot... Dx 4/4/2011, ILC, 1cm, Stage I, 0/9 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Feb 22, 2010 11:46PM barbe1958 wrote:

Think Drano....but approved by the FDA.

Religion is for people who are afraid of hell, spirituality is for people who have already been there. (Lakota Nation) Dx 12/10/2008
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Feb 22, 2010 11:47PM Merilee wrote:

LOL Now I am motivated! HA HA HA

breastcancerbeast.blogspot.com & downsyduderescueranch.blogspot... Dx 4/4/2011, ILC, 1cm, Stage I, 0/9 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Feb 23, 2010 12:52AM , edited Feb 23, 2010 12:59AM by Leah_S

OK, I just got the prep instructions. 3 days before - very low-fiber diet, no fat, simple carbs. That's for 2 days. Then, for 24 hours before, only liquids (no milk). The evening before, drink the Drano and get miserable diarrhea - my family will not be permitted to use the bathroom (we have only one so I might suggest my kids have sleepovers that night). Next AM, only water and then a Fleet enema a few hours before. I have no idea how to use it, nor do I know how I'll manage the ride to the hospital.

I expect all of you to hold my hand through this since I will be whining about it between now and my appt (in 3 weeks).

Leah

Dx 11/3/2008, IDC, 1cm, Stage IV, Grade 3, 6/17 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Feb 23, 2010 01:03AM 2z54 wrote:

This may really sound stupid, but when I was dx with bc, I had never had a colonoscopy although at 54, it was time.  After the chemo and surgery were over, I figured I had a "window" of opportunity (i.e. had just had chemo!) to get a clean colonoscopy and Pap smear, so I scheduled those appointments without any of my doctors reminding or nagging me.  And, it worked out thank G-d. I don't think I would have been able to face another dx.

Dx 7/23/2008, IDC, 3cm, Stage II, Grade 3, 0/3 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2-

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