Colonoscopy is the most widespread colon cancer screening procedure in existence.
It has been shown to detect early-stage adenomas and colorectal cancers at a curable stage.
Approximately 50% of colorectal tumors are located in the distal colon and colonoscopy has also been shown to be effective at detecting these lesions too.
Despite this, many patients believe that this test is more risky than it actually is due to concerns about bowel preparation and the general unpleasantness.
Let’s get more in depth about the Colonoscopy procedure and when to consider getting it done.
What is a Colonoscopy?
A Colonoscopy is used to look inside the colon to find any potential problems that may be hiding.
This is done by inserting the end of a long, flexible tube called a Colonoscope into the Rectum.
The tip of the Colonoscope has a mini light and camera on the end. Once the end of the Colonoscope has been inserted, the doctor can slowly push it through the Rectum and into the colon, while taking pictures of any abnormalities.
If you are experiencing the following symptoms, you should make an appointment with your GP:
- Stomach pains
- Abdominal discomfort
- Rectal bleeding
- Unexplained weight loss
- Abdominal swelling
- Unexplained nausea or vomiting
When to Get a Colonoscopy
Colonoscopies are often recommended to people over the age of 50 in order to screen for possible colon cancer in the early stages.
If your family history includes colon cancer, doctors may recommend that you start having a colonoscopy at an earlier age.
If you have symptoms that could be caused by colon cancer, your doctor may recommend a colonoscopy to diagnose the problem.
If you are at risk for colon cancer, make sure to talk to your doctor about when you should start getting a colonoscopy.
A colonoscopy is performed to detect:
- Colorectal cancer
- Precancerous tumors or polyps
- Inflammatory bowel disease such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease
You may also need a colonoscopy if you experience these symptoms:
- Rectal bleeding
- Changes in bowel habits or appearance in stool
- Chronic diarrhea
- Chronic abdominal pain
Don’t Wait Until You Suffer from Polyps
The colon is the last part of your digestive tract.
Polyps are small fleshy growths that can form in the colon. They are often harmless, but if they grow large enough, they can block the passage of stool.
This can lead to an infection known as colitis, or colon cancer, which is one of the most common cancers in adults.
Therefore, it’s important to get screened regularly. The best way to get screened for polyps is to take a colonoscopy.
The procedure is done under sedation and takes only about 15 minutes. The doctor will examine the entire length of your colon to find any polyps. There are many reasons why you should not wait until you’re suffering from polyps.
How a Colonoscopy Works
The process can be uncomfortable, but your doctor is there to help ensure that you’re as comfortable as possible the entire time.
They will give you a sedative that will make you drowsy and then you will be given a bowel cleansing solution to take the night before the exam to empty your bowels.
The idea behind a colonoscopy is to find and remove any polyps, which can be precancerous and even cancerous.
Polyps can grow inside the colon, and they can cause many problems, such as intense abdominal pains and bleeding.
Before your Colonoscopy: Things to Do and Consider Before Your Colonoscopy
In preparation for a colonoscopy, there are a few things you can do to make the process easier.
– Schedule your colonoscopy appointment as far in advance as possible.
– Consider if you should take a stool softener and/or laxative before your procedure.
– If needed, begin a low fiber diet before your colonoscopy.
– Avoid eating solid foods the day before and shortly after your colonoscopy.
– Order and collect your medications the night before the procedure.
– Pack your medications, snacks, and water bottles to take with you to the hospital.
– Pack a change of clothes and toiletries, as well as a book or magazine, for your recovery time.
What to Expect During a Colonoscopy
A Colonoscopy is an examination of the entire colon, the rectum, and the anus, used to screen for colorectal cancer or other colorectal abnormalities.
A colonoscopy is typically done without sedation. It can be done on your hands and knees (called flexed knee), sitting, or standing.
A Colonoscopy is done in the doctor’s office or hospital. You will either be given anesthesia or pain medication before the procedure. A doctor will use various tools to guide the colonoscope through your large intestine and take images of your colon, rectum, and anus.
During Your Colonoscopy: What to Expect During Your Colonoscopy
The examination is conducted on the inside of the large intestine (colon) and examines any polyps that may be present.
A colonoscopy is a procedure in which the doctor inserts a tube-like instrument into your colon, also known as large intestine or large bowel, to examine the lining of the colon.
It is a non-invasive procedure, and no anesthesia is required for this test.
If a polyp is spotted during this procedure, it can be biopsied and removed through the same small incision made by the insertion of the endoscope.
A polyp is an abnormal growth inside of the colon that doctors suspect may turn into cancer if it remains untreated. Food or stool particles are expelled as soon as examination using a suction tube attached to the endoscope has been concluded.
The patient will be able to go home soon after treatment.
After a Colonoscopy: Things to Consider After Your Colonoscopy
Many people feel that a colonoscopy is an unpleasant and uncomfortable experience.
It can be both, but with preparation and aftercare, this process can be done without too much discomfort. There are many things to be concerned with after your colonoscopy, and we will discuss them here.
- Avoid heavy lifting and strenuous exercise.
It is important to avoid heavy lifting and strenuous exercise for at least 48 hours after your procedure. This will help to reduce the risk of bleeding and discomfort in the abdomen.
- Do not eat solid food the day of your colonoscopy.
After a colonoscopy, a doctor will likely recommend the following:
- Drinks with electrolytes
- Vegetable or fruit juices
- Herbal tea
- Mashed potatoes
- Scrambled eggs
Risks and Benefits of a Colonoscopy
The colonoscopy procedure is safe and effective. But it can sometimes cause bleeding, inflammation or infection in pouches in the colon called diverticulum.
The main advantage of getting a colonoscopy is that it helps identify early signs of cancer and allows your physician to remove polyps before they can become invasive.
According to the National Cancer Institute, colorectal cancer is the third most common form of cancer in men and women.
Contact an Expert
If you are concerned about abdominal pain and wish to schedule a colonoscopy – talk to us today.
Call your gastroenterologist for advice if any unexpected symptoms occur, including:
- Persistent nausea
- Persistent but minor bleeding
- Ongoing bloating and abdominal discomfort
We recommend going directly to the emergency room if the patient experiences any of the following:
- Severe abdominal pain
- Heavy bleeding from the anus (rectum)
Dr. Schneider is here to provide you with expert medical advice in the field of gastroenterology.
Book an appointment online or contact us on 011 482-3010 to find out more.
DISCLAIMER: PLEASE READ CAREFULLY
The information on this website is to provide general guidance. In no way does any of the information provided reflect definitive medical advice and self-diagnoses should not be made based on information obtained online. It is important to consult a Gastroenterologist or medical doctor regarding ANY and ALL symptoms or signs including, but not limited to: abdominal pain, haemorrhoids or anal / rectal bleeding as it may a sign of a serious illness or condition. A thorough consultation and examination should ALWAYS be performed for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan. Be sure to call a physician or call our office today and schedule a consultation.