Colonoscopy and type 1 diabetes

The clinic I go to is pressuring me to have a colonoscopy simply because I am over 50 and "everyone does it". I'm worried not just about going low, but about the prep damaging my kidneys. 6 years ago I had a horrific experience with breast cancer screening (false positive led to 2 biopsies in which the anesthetic kicked in hours after the procedure causing extreme pain and emotional trauma). I no longer do mammograms as a result. Clinic has new equipment$$. Being told "You will die a horrible death from cancer if you don't have the screening" does not help, but rather strengthens my resolve not to entrust my health to them.

Additional discussions on colonoscopy and diabetes:

Colonoscopy: any suggestions on maintaing sugar level?

Endoscopy and colonoscopy - so much fuss??

Surgery and Type 1

I am also fairly distrustful of so called "health care." Perhaps you can find a local doctor who has a good track record of doing colonoscopies without sedation? Lots of people do the procedure without all the complications of anesthesia.

Colonoscopies are, in many cases, life-saving. It's your decision, but if I were you, I'd find a reputable place to do it and just go for it.

I don't think I could make it through the prep--24 hours without food is iffy, and if I get low, I need to treat, and try later.... My PCP agrees and lets me do the "other" test. I do it without fail. It is still not as good as the colonoscopy, but it is what I am willing to do. Diabetes, especially T1 has a huge impact on how I face "everyone does it" medical requirements.

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My mother died 3 years ago of colon cancer. Could have been completely resolved had she had a colonoscopy. Instead her medicare paid for a sigmoidoscopy which is only part of the intestine. A reputable Dr will use "twilight sleep" and won't put you completely out. Its a truely life saving procedure for some. I've had it done and there were no problems, doesn't take that long and now I have the comfort of knowing that I'm ok for another 5 years.

I plan to have a colonoscopy soon. There is no way I want to deal with colon cancer, its horrible. Why do you think the prep is going to give you kidney damage? I would find a doc who is experienced with both colonoscopy and D and discuss all of this with them. Plenty of people here have had them done with no problems. I'm worried about any procedure like this because I had a traumatic endoscopy where I wasn't sedated properly, it was really awful. There was no anesthesiologist, now they're required for all these procedures. The first one I had where I was sedated and my gag reflex was inhibited was fine. I would always choose sedation even though I don't like being sedated I don't want to be awake for that, but as Brian said some people do go the non sedation route also.

My dad was a cancer colon survivor--he urged all of us to get screened. I have done so once, before my diabetes dx. The colonoscopy itself was easy. The prep . . . ick. But it was not 24 hours without food. I had a hard time drinking the prep fluid.
When I schedule my next colonoscopy I will make sure to talk to someone about a diabetes-appropriate prep plan.

I too am over 50 and every year when I see my primary care doctor she asks "are we doing a colonoscopy this year ?" and I always reply no not this year thanks. I don't have any bad experiences with cancer screenings, I get a yearly mammogram because both my mom and grandmother have had breast cancer. My mom had the brac tests done and does not have the gene thankfully. But nobody in my entire family history has had colo-rectal cancer so I can't see the point yet. I'll get it done eventually but so far nobody has pressured me in to doing it just because "every does it".

I get that it can be life saving, but how do you deal with the preparation requirements as a T1 D--24 hours without food? My basals are good, but.....

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I’ve had 2 colonoscopies and have been T1D for 52 years. You can have clear broth and clear (apple type) juice along with the prep. I lowered my basal rate and tested often. it’s no picnic but diabetes certainly is not an obstacle if it needs to be done. I always schedule ( same as any medical procedure) first in the early a.m. The theory is that everyone over 50 have it done and if you have no polyps or family history, then you are usually off the hook for another 10 years. My mother is the only one in her family history with colon cancer so it’s no guarantee unfortunately. I miss her terribly.

Linda - ditto for me.. except I've only had 1.

Once every 10 years is worth the peace of mind, as my grandmother did have colon cancer.
The prep was 'uncomfortable', but not that bad, and I used apple juice or sprite to correct a low. I don't recall needing to do a 24 hour fast. Mine was also scheduled for early AM, and I think that helped.

I was under sedation, and able to keep my pump and cgms the whole time.

spock, what's the other test. i too am scheduled for a colonscopy, actually, i've rescheduled about 4 times now cause i don't really want to get it done either but i'm having blood, etc...I'm not sure how to do with 'fasting' stuff either and a bit nervous about all the prep.

Recommend just doing it. The prep is the worst part (and it's not the going without eating for 24 hours that sucks)! Lows aren't really a concern as the doc will have you drinking "leaded" Gatorade (spiked with almost 30 days worth of laxative in 3 hours or so). It sounds tough (and it is) but it is more than doable. I tested every hour. My doc used prophynol (sp?) and I was only out of 15 - 20 minutes. Whole thing was very anti-climatic with the prep being the toughest / longest day.

Lots of people posting on the good reasons to do this. We can fight diabetes for a long time (in most cases) but cancer is a whole different animal.


Kaiser sends me a stool test kit every year. They evidently use that first, then a colonoscopy if the first test shows something. I am considerably over 50.

Thanks for bringing up this topic Mary. My GP said that our Gov has requested that they "strongly encourage" their male patients to have the Colonoscopy done and probably other tests. The females are to have the PAP test, Colonoscopy and Mammogram done routinely.

I have done the stool test which came back okay but I haven't done the Colonoscopy yet even though he keeps reminding me. I will since we have both Cancers in our Families. Thanks for the info. I'm a bit less scared now.

Sarah...Spock probably meant the "stool test" when she said the "other test".

I have never had a colonoscopy either. My mother has had diverticulitis and had surgery to remove a tiny section of her intestine last year. No cancer and she recovered fine, at 84. I am not looking forward to a colonoscopy. My ob-gyn suggests it at every yearly visit, but I do not go and get it. I guess I do not want to drink the yucky prep and do not want to fast for 24 hours as a type one. If they let you have a little apple juice, I guess I could do it with a reduced basal? Not at all looking forward to it.

God bless,

the stool kit can only detect possible bacteria, infection, blood in stool, etc.. but can't possibly detect any polyps in the colon.

I was tentatively scheduled for a colonoscopy due to some problems I was having, but thank goodness with the use of probiotics and fiber supplement, the problem has gone away. When we were talking about it we discussed accomodation. Aside from Type 1, I would have to stay over in a motel for the prep as I live an hour away over the mountain, and I don't eat sugar at all. They said that as a diabetic I wouldn't have to go the full 24 hours but could have breakfast the day before. They also said that the laxative mix was a powder that was usually mixed with crystal lite but I could mix it with iced tea if I wanted. But it still sounds like an ordeal, especially having to do the prep away from home. I would have done it if warranted but not just as a prevention. I personally think all the "prevention" tests are a bit of a racket. It may be a head in the sand attitude but I figure I have enough actual problems to deal with without testing for things I "could" get.

Yes agreed Sarah. My mother who died from colon cancer did have the yearly stool test which always came back negative. Cancer doesn't always bleed or shed.

Well in my opinion, it is a screening. No different than a yearly breast exam screening although I agree it's a hassle. But its not done very often so why gamble. When you've lost someone you love, you will understand how this treatable cancer can be prevented and become very passionate about being tested. Just like being tested for diabetes, it saves lives.