If your turning 45, your family doctor should be recommending that you get a colonoscopy screening. Does that sound a little scary? Trust us, there is nothing to fear. This life-saving screening can help detect any sign of colon cancer or pre-cancerous colon polyps, and prevent colon cancer better than any other screening available.
According to the American Cancer Society, an individual should do a colon screening after he or she turns 45. Many people get scared when they hear about receiving a colonoscopy because they don’t have a clear understanding of the process. CMC Digestive Health is providing insight into the procedure, so you know what to expect while easing your fears about the process.
What is a colonoscopy?
Before your colonoscopy begins, a specialist will give you sedation medication. This will help you relax and undergo the procedure in comfort. The best thing about IV sedation is that you’re asleep during the entire colonoscopy. When the procedure is finished, your IV medicine is stopped and when you wake up there is no hangover, no nausea, and no memory of what just happened.
During the procedure, our experienced gastroenterologists insert a thin, tube-shaped device with a mini camera inside your colon. They introduce the device into the rectum and then enter the colon to scan for polyps. If they find any polyps, they are removed right then and there which means the potential of them developing into cancer is eliminated. No other colon cancer prevention measure is as successful as this.
What about the prep?
The success of the colonoscopy depends on how clean your colon is on the date of the procedure. Any remaining residue that has not been flushed from your system can obstruct the camera’s view. So, to clean your colon, your doctor will recommend a special diet for the days leading up to your procedure accompanied by a prescribed laxative regime commonly referred to as the prep.
For most patients, the prep is not as bad as they thought it was going to be. The worst part is having to be near a toilet for several hours. Stick with the process, because the cleaner your bowels, the better your doctor will be able to spot and remove any worrisome lesions or polyps before they turn into cancer.
How will you feel after a colonoscopy?
There is a misconception that colonoscopy screening hurts, but it is not painful. Since you are given sedation during the procedure, you may experience sleepiness after you wake up. Because of this, you cannot drive home, and someone is required to pick you up. You may want to rest for the remainder of the day.
You may also feel a little bloated because of the carbon dioxide gas used to inflate your colon during the procedure. After a few hours, you will notice that the bloating goes away. The only side effect you may get from the procedure is hunger from the fasting you did before the screening. Avoid eating a big meal after fasting because it could irritate your stomach and your bowels.
How often should you get a colonoscopy to be safe?
As reported by the American Cancer Society, an individual aged 45 and older with an average risk of colon cancer should have a colonoscopy every ten years. If you are a person who has an above-average risk (prior precancerous polyps, family history of colon cancer, etc.), your family doctor or gastroenterologist may recommend screening more frequently. After turning 75, you should talk to your gastroenterologist about screening protocols.
Take Care of Your Colon
Undergoing a colonoscopy screening may not be fun, but it’s a game changer when it comes to cancer detection and prevention. Delaying this screening means cancer cells get another day to grow. Get your screening as early as possible.
If you are living in the Myrtle Beach area, we hope you feel empowered by knowing what to expect with the help from CMC Digestive Health. If you’re still on the fence about getting your first colonoscopy, remember to consider your family. Colon cancer is now the second-leading cause of cancer death, and having regular, timely colonoscopies is the best way to prevent it.