Colonoscopy Questions and Answers
Colonoscopies are the "gold standard," in terms of preventive measures for colon cancer. Most physicians agree that this procedure, a healthy diet and regular exercise are the best choices available to you in preventing colon cancer or identifying it in its earliest stages.
What are my chances of developing colon cancer?
Colon cancer is the third most common cancer among men and women in the U.S., and the second leading cause of cancer death.
About 140,000 new cases of colorectal cancer are diagnosed every year, while approximately 50,000 people die annually of this disease. But colorectal cancer can be prevented and cured - if detected and treated early.
What can I do to prevent colon cancer?
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends screening for colorectal cancer beginning at age 50. Based on the results of your colonoscopy, your physician will recommend when you should have your next colonoscopy. In combination with colonoscopies, a healthy diet and regular exercise are excellent ways of preventing colon cancer.
What is a colonoscopy?
A colonoscopy is an outpatient procedure during which your colon and rectum is examined from the inside, with a colonoscope - a flexible instrument that transmits images to a screen. The physician performing the colonoscopy is able to view the lining of the colon looking for abnormalities during the procedure.
How do I prepare for a colonoscopy?
Your physician or someone on his or her staff will discuss preparations with you. You may be asked to limit or eliminate solid foods for a few days before the test. More than likely, you also will be asked to drink a special laxative to cleanse your colon before the procedure. Most people agree that drinking the special laxative is the most difficult and unpleasant part of a colonoscopy.
Because you will be sedated during the colonoscopy, make certain you have someone to drive you home afterwards, as well as someone to speak to the physician after the procedure. More than likely, you will not recall parts of the conversation due to the sedative you receive for the procedure.
You will be awake when you leave from the colonoscopy, but you should not drive, operate machinery, make critical decisions or drink alcohol for the remainder of the day.
How is a colonoscopy performed?
One of the first things you will be asked before your colonoscopy is whether you refrained from solid foods and took the special laxative, or whatever preparation your physician ordered.
Provided you have, you will be asked to undress and put on a surgical gown. An IV will be started and you will be given a sedative. Once inside the colonoscopy suite, you will be asked to lie on your left side. Additional medication will be administered and you will experience a twilight sleep.
Meanwhile, the physician will insert a colonoscope and conduct a detailed examination. Abnormal growths, called polyps, as well as abnormal tissue, will be removed during the procedure for further examination.
What happens after the colonoscopy?
You will remain in a recovery room for about a half-hour for observation. It's not unusual to feel some cramping, but it passes quickly. You may be wobbly when you walk, but that too will pass. Before leaving, the physician will meet with you and the person you designate to discuss the results of the colonoscopy.
Will my insurance cover the cost?
You need to check with your insurance carrier to determine whether a colonoscopy is covered under your plan.
Other things to consider about a colonoscopy:
- The procedure may not detect very small polyps and cancers.
- You may need to adjust your medications before the procedure.
- Some people have adverse reactions to the sedative used.
- It may take up to a day for the sedative to wear off.
- Bloating may occur hours after the procedure.
For more information, please call Adena Gastroenterology and Colorectal Surgery at (740) 779-8530.
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