A colonoscopy is the gold standard screening for colon cancer. One reason is that it is very effective in detecting cancer early – when it can be treated successfully more than 90% of the time. But even beyond that, a colonoscopy is the only screening that can also prevent some colon cancers from developing in the first place.
How Can It Help Prevent Colon Cancer?
During your colonoscopy, small abnormal polyps, or growths, can be removed before they have a chance to become cancerous. It’s preventive care that can make a life-saving difference.
Why Should I Have a Colonoscopy?
“Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in both men and women in the United States, and the incidence increases with age,” explained Dr. Jagannath Sherigar. “The American Cancer Society recommends that people at average risk for colon cancer should begin screening at age 45. Those at high risk – such as a family or personal history – should begin screening sooner.”
What’s Involved in the Preparation?
Your doctor will give you complete instructions. Basically, it involves eating a low fiber diet for a few days prior to the procedure. On the day before, you should consume only clear liquids such as clear soft drinks, broth, Jell-O, Popsicles®, and black coffee or tea. You’ll also need to take the medication your doctor prescribes to clear your bowels.
There’s No Pain or Embarrassment.
According to Dr. Sherigar, “When you have a colonoscopy, you will receive sedation, so you won’t feel any discomfort. And there’s nothing embarrassing about taking good care of your health. In fact, it’s a very smart thing to do.”
How Does It Work?
A colonoscopy is an examination of the large intestine that’s performed using a thin, flexible tube with a tiny camera at the end. That allows the doctor to examine the inside of the intestine to check for polyps or early signs of cancer. It may be used as a screening tool, or as a diagnostic tool to look for the cause of unexplained chronic diarrhea or bleeding. The actual procedure usually lasts about 30 minutes.
If your doctor has recommended a screening colonoscopy or a diagnostic colonoscopy to look for the cause of any symptoms you are having and you have questions, the experts at Baptist Health Richmond are here for you. You can find a physician, schedule an appointment for a second opinion, or if you’re ready, schedule your colonoscopy here at Baptist Health Richmond Surgical Services.
Insurance usually covers screening colonoscopies, but financial counselors are available if you have concerns about the cost.