A colonoscopy is a vital tool that’s used to screen for colorectal cancer, and with colorectal cancer being the fourth leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States, it’s important that you stay up-to-date on yours.
Unfortunately, up to 33% of those over the age of 50 aren’t up-to-date on their colonoscopies, and research shows that the earlier colorectal cancer is detected through a colonoscopy, the better the chances of it being treated.
If you haven’t had a colonoscopy before and you aren’t sure what to expect, Ven Kottapalli, MD, CNSP, and the rest of our team at GI Physicians, Inc. in Lima, Ohio, want to walk you through what colonoscopies do, why they’re so important, and what to expect during the procedure itself.
What you need to know about colonoscopies
A colonoscopy is a routine screening test where all of your large intestine is examined with a thin, flexible tube called a colonoscope that’s inserted through your rectum. The colonoscope is used to detect any abnormalities such as polyps, inflamed tissue, ulcers, and colorectal cancer.
Because colorectal cancer often doesn’t present with symptoms, it’s important to be screened regularly through a colonoscopy to find polyps that have the potential to become cancerous. It’s estimated that 90% of polyps and any suspicious tissues can be found during a routine colonoscopy.
While colonoscopies are vital for the detection of colorectal cancer, they can also be used to look for root causes of other gastrointestinal issues such as chronic constipation or diarrhea, abdominal pain, and changes in bowel movements.
Who should be getting colonoscopies
Your risk of developing colorectal cancer only increases as you get older. Because of this, after you turn 45, you should start getting colonoscopies regularly. However, how often you get them depends on factors like your family health history and if you’ve ever had abnormal findings during a previous colonoscopy.
What happens during a colonoscopy
A day or two before your colonoscopy, you need to do what’s called bowel prep. During this time, you need to eat a clear liquid diet and take a laxative to give our team a clear view of your colon when it comes time for the actual procedure.
On the day of your colonoscopy, you first change into a hospital gown. Then our team administers sedation and pain medication to keep you comfortable during the entirety of the screening.
When it’s time to begin the procedure, you lay on your side as our team inserts the colonoscope through your rectum to start examining your large intestine. If we find anything abnormal during the examination, we remove it for further testing.
Due to the anesthesia, you should feel little to no discomfort for the duration of the colonoscopy which should last anywhere from 15-60 minutes.
You need to have someone drive you home after the procedure is over since it takes a full day for the sedative to wear off. Our team sends off any findings to a laboratory for further examination, and you should know your results within a few days.
If you’re overdue for a colonoscopy, don’t wait to schedule your next one. To set up an appointment, contact our office by giving us a call or scheduling online today.