Virtually everyone needs to start having colonoscopies at some point. The safe and routine exploratory exam allows your doctor to detect abnormalities or changes in your colon and rectum. In addition to other benefits, colonoscopies have made colorectal cancer one of the most preventable forms of cancer. This is especially important, given that this type of cancer is also one of the most common.
Dr. Ven Kottapalli and the GI Physicians, Inc. team offer colonoscopies in the comfort of our Lima, Ohio, office. Read on to learn whether you might need to schedule one in the near future.
Why colonoscopies are performed
A colonoscopy allows Dr. Kottapalli to explore and assess any intestinal symptoms you might have, such as abdominal pain, chronic constipation or diarrhea, and rectal bleeding. In addition, the test helps screen for colorectal cancer. Colonoscopies also help identify and remove polyps, which can lead to colon cancer, and reveal problems, such as inflamed tissue, ulcers, and tumors.
So if you have ongoing digestive symptoms or a history of polyps, colonoscopies can be very important. If you’re age 50 or older and hold an average risk for colon cancer, Dr. Kottapalli may recommend having a colonoscopy every 10 years.
What happens during a colonoscopy
During a colonoscopy, Dr. Kottapalli inserts a long, thin, flexible camera called an endoscope into the inner lining of your colon and rectum. You won’t have to worry about pain, thanks to sedation. And because not a single incision is needed, the procedure doesn’t bring the risks or lengthy recovery time of invasive surgery. During your colonoscopy, you’ll wear a gown and lie on an exam table, likely with your knees drawn toward your chest. In all, a colonoscopy takes about 30-60 minutes.
Ideal age for your first colonoscopy
While 50 is a common first age to begin having colonoscopies, this varies, based on factors, such as your overall health and colon cancer risk factors. If you’re African American, for example, your risk for colorectal cancer is higher and you may benefit from colonoscopies starting at age 45. If you have a chronic digestive condition, such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease or a family history of colorectal cancer, you, too, may benefit from earlier tests. If you’re not African American and maintain overall good health, aim to have your first colonoscopy by age 50.
Many people benefit from getting a colonoscopy at least once every 10 years. If your risk for cancer increases, however, due to factors, such as a high presence of polyps, or you’re diagnosed with a chronic digestive disease, you may need to switch to more frequent colonoscopies. People with polyps often benefit from a test every five years. This way, new polyps can be removed and your colon cancer risk lowered. As you reach age 75 or so, you may no longer need colonoscopies, given that possible complications may outweigh the advantages.
To learn more about colonoscopies or schedule your first, call GI Physicians, Inc. or request an appointment on our website.