Having a colonoscopy is an important part of screening for colon cancer and other disorders that affect the gastrointestinal system. When you should get one depends on certain factors, such as your age and risk of colon cancer. Find out more about colonoscopies, so you can determine if it’s time to have one done.
Uses for a Colonoscopy
Why should you consider having a colonoscopy done? This test can show if you have any signs of colon cancer or GI disorders, such as inflammatory bowel disease or diverticulosis. Doctors use a colonoscopy to inspect your colon and look for any abnormalities that might indicate cancer or another condition.
How a Colonoscopy Is Done
During a colonoscopy, doctors use a flexible instrument known as a colonoscope to check your colon or large intestine. This procedure can also be used to remove a sample of tissue for a biopsy or to remove polyps that might turn into cancerous growths. A colonoscopy should not cause you any pain, but you might feel uncomfortable about having it done. Doctors can provide patients with a sedative to help them feel more relaxed during this test.
Who Should Have a Colonoscopy Done?
Everyone eventually needs to have a colonoscopy done to screen for colon cancer. The age at which you should begin having them differs based on factors such as your family history. In some cases where there is a higher risk of colon cancer, doctors recommend starting to have colonoscopies done at an earlier age. Keep in mind that men and women should have a colonoscopy done since colon cancer occurs in both.
When to Have a Colonoscopy Done
You should discuss your medical history, including your family history, with your doctor. This helps determine when you should start having regular colonoscopies done as cancer screenings. The American Cancer Society recommends having one done at age 45 if you have an average risk of colon cancer. If you have a family history of this disease or if you have other risk factors, such as Crohn’s disease, your doctor might recommend having it done sooner. You should have a colonoscopy done on a regular basis until you turn 75. At this point, your doctor will go over your medical history again in order to decide whether or not to continue these screenings.
How to Prepare for a Colonoscopy
Before having a colonoscopy done, you’ll need to take steps to prepare for it. You need to have a clean colon in order for a colonoscopy to be effective. This can be done in different ways. You should follow your doctor’s specific instructions for preparation, but the following information can give you an idea of what to expect:
- Many patients drink a solution of polyethylene glycol to help clear out the colon.
- Some patients can take prescription pills or a smaller liquid solution to induce diarrhea and clear the colon.
- Some patients take phosphate tablets or drink a phosphate solution to cleanse the colon before a colonoscopy.
Benefits of a Colonoscopy
Having a regular colonoscopy done helps prevent colon cancer, which can be a deadly form of cancer when it goes undetected and untreated. This test allows doctors to get rid of polyps that could become cancerous and also provides a way to detect colon cancer in its earlier stages. When colon cancer treatment begins early, there is a better outlook for those who have this disease. Your doctor can let you know when to start regular colonoscopies to protect your health.
If you need a colonoscopy, please contact Boulevard Medical Healthcare to set up an appointment.