What Is A Colonoscopy And What To Expect?
If you have been considering visiting a gastroenterologist for a colonoscopy, chances are you may have many questions about the procedure and what to expect.
What is a colonoscopy?
It is the gold standard screening for colorectal cancer and is the only screening that can prevent and detect cancer. The procedure finds and painlessly removes polyps before they turn into cancer. For many, the thought of getting a colonoscopy for the first time may be scary, but the entire procedure is painless.
What happens during the procedure?
Using a colonoscope (a thin, flexible tube with a light, camera, and tool to remove polyps attached at the end) your gastroenterologist inserts it and guides it to the end of the colon. The colonoscope is then slowly removed as your doctor uses it to look for any polyps. Polyps are growths that protrude from the inner wall of the large intestine, which can develop into colorectal cancers. If a polyp is found, it is then painlessly removed and sent to a pathology lab for examination.
Simple steps to prepare for colonoscopy:
- Consultation – Your gastroenterologist will review the procedure with you, answer any questions you have, and prescribe your easy-prep kit.
- Preparation – The night before your procedure, you will drink your first liquid-based solution, then repeat another consumption of the liquid-based solution the morning of your procedure to cleanse your colon.
- Procedure – During the procedure, you will be completely sedated to ensure maximal comfort. At GCSA, every colonoscopy is performed by a board-certified gastroenterologist who has extensive experience identifying polyps and colorectal cancer.
- Recovery – Because you’ll be sedated during your procedure, you’ll need someone to drive you home afterward. You can eat whenever you feel comfortable and return to your normal activities the next day.
Should you make an appointment?
Because of the overwhelming success rate of colonoscopies detecting colorectal cancer before it develops, the disease has become one of the most preventable forms of cancer. The American Cancer Society recommends those at average risk should see a gastroenterologist by age 45. Based on the findings of the initial colonoscopy screening, your gastroenterologist will recommend the frequency of follow-up colonoscopies.
People with a life expectancy of more than 10 years and in good health should continue regular colorectal cancer screening through the age of 75.
People ages 76 through 85, should consider screening based on personal preferences, life expectancy, overall health, and prior screening history.
People over 85 should no longer get colorectal cancer screening.
If you have any of the following signs of colorectal cancer, seek our assistance immediately:
- A change in bowel habits, including diarrhea, constipation or a change in stool
- Rectal bleeding, or blood in your stool
- Persistent abdominal discomfort, such as cramps, gas, pain, feeling full or bloated
- Nausea or vomiting
- Unexplained weight loss
- Chronic fatigue
A colonoscopy screening may not be the most pleasant experience one can go through, but there is a lasting peace of mind that comes with the procedure and it may save your life. To schedule an appointment or learn more about how Gastroenterology Consultants of San Antonio specializes in easy-prep colonoscopies in the San Antonio communities of Medical Center, Stone Oak, Northeast, Westover Hills, Boerne or Bulverde, call 210.614.1234 today.
Source: American Cancer Society