Colon cancer is the third most common type of cancer in the United States. However, thanks to advances in colon cancer screenings, we are seeing a reduction in colon cancer cases.
However, many people still put off getting a colonoscopy — which is the gold standard when it comes to screening for colon cancer — because they have concerns about the test itself or the preparations for it. But with advances in bowel prep options and testing, the colonoscopy is not nearly as bad as you may think.
At GI Physicians Inc. in Lima, Ohio, our gastrointestinal specialist, Ven Kottapalli, MD, CNSP, and our team perform colonoscopies to screen, diagnose, and treat gastrointestinal conditions. This includes screening for colon cancer and removing polyps, which are benign growths that can potentially turn into colon cancer.
In this blog, we want to give you some insight into what to expect during a colonoscopy to ease any apprehensions you may have about the procedure and to explain why it’s so important.
About the colonoscopy
A colonoscopy is a procedure that allows us to see the lining of your large intestine. During a colonoscopy, we use a colonoscope — a thin tube with a light and high-definition camera — to see the lining of your large intestine.
Though the colonoscopy is the “gold standard” tool for screening for colon cancer, we also perform the procedure to find out what’s causing gastrointestinal symptoms, such as chronic diarrhea, abdominal pain, and bloody stools.
Though we use a sedative to ease nerves and minimize discomfort, we perform a colonoscopy without making any abdominal incisions.
Prepping for the colonoscopy
Proper bowel prep for your colonoscopy is very important. This ensures your large intestine is clear of all stool and debris, so we can properly evaluate the tissue. Failing to follow your colonoscopy bowel prep guidelines may result in a rescheduling of your procedure.
You may think twice about a colonoscopy because of the stories you’ve heard from friends and family about prepping for the colonoscopy. Not too long ago, your only option for cleaning out your colon was drinking a gallon of a special unpleasant tasting liquid laxative. Now, you have other options.
Though we require that you follow a clear liquid diet before your colonoscopy, we offer three laxative options, which are:
Plenvu® is a liquid laxative designed specifically for colonoscopy bowel prep. With Plenvu, you drink two 16-ounce doses of the medication the day before your procedure. You take the first dose at 7am, and you take the second dose 12 hours later at 7pm.
Clenpiq® is a ready-made liquid laxative for colonoscopy bowel prep, which you also take one day before your colonoscopy. There’s no mixing, and one bottle (or serving) has only 5.4 ounces.
With Clenpiq, you drink one 5.4 ounce container at 7am followed by five 8-ounce glasses of water over the next five hours. Then, you drink the second 5.4 ounce container of Clenpiq at 7pm, followed by four 8-ounce glasses of water over two hours.
MiraLAX® is a laxative for constipation. For MiraLAX bowel prep, you take two Dulcolax® tablets at 4pm the day before your colonoscopy. Then, you mix one 238-gram bottle of MiraLAX with 64-ounces of water or another clear liquid — such as apple juice or a clear sports drink — and drink one cup of the solution every 10-15 minutes until the solution is gone.
Getting the colonoscopy
Our colonoscopies are painless, and we keep you comfortable throughout the entire 30-60 minute procedure.
We insert the colonoscope into your anus, then through your rectum, and into your large intestine. We then advance the camera throughout your entire colon, carefully inspecting the tissue as we go.
If we find any polyps, we remove them. Polyps are usually benign growths, but they can sometimes turn cancerous. Removing them reduces your risk of developing cancer.
For a negative colon cancer screening, you only need to repeat the colonoscopy every 10 years. Other colon cancer screenings, such as a stool test or a sigmoidoscopy, are often repeated more frequently, such as every 3-5 years. And, if any of these other tests come back positive, then you’ll need to undergo a colonoscopy to get a better look at what’s going on.
Colon cancer is a slow growing, highly treatable cancer. Finding it during the early stages may save your life.
Stop putting off your colonoscopy. It’s not nearly as bad as you may think. To learn more, book an appointment online or over the phone with GI Physicians Inc. today.