Colon cancer is a silent and deadly disease. It usually starts when harmless groups of cells known as polyps form inside the colon and turn cancerous. Many patients do not experience any symptoms in the early stages of the disease, highlighting the importance of early and regular screenings via colonoscopies.
Colonoscopy is considered the gold standard for detecting colon cancer. During this procedure, your doctor inserts an instrument called a colonoscope into your rectum to look for abnormal growths in the colon. Here’s what you can expect before and during the procedure.
Preparing for a Colonoscopy
Before a colonoscopy, it is necessary to empty your colon to give your doctor an unobstructed view during the exam. They may ask you to take laxatives and follow a strict liquid diet two days before the procedure.
In general, you should refrain from eating fiber-rich foods or supplements. Solid foods are also not allowed. Water, tea, fruit juice, ice pops, and coffee without milk or cream are fine, but avoid dark-colored liquids that might be interpreted as blood. Likewise, do not consume dairy products and alcohol.
Notify your doctor of any medications or supplements that you’re currently taking. You may need to adjust the dosage or temporarily stop your medications a week before the procedure, especially if you’re taking blood thinners, diabetes medications, or anything that contains iron.
Arrange for a friend or family member to pick you up after the procedure since you will not be allowed to drive after the test.
On the day of the colonoscopy, it’s best to refrain from eating any solid foods. Stop taking clear liquids two hours before your scheduled test.
During a Colonoscopy
During a colonoscopy, you will be given a sedative either intravenously or orally to ensure there is minimal discomfort during the procedure. Some patients may prefer to receive no sedation to watch the procedure. You will then lie down on your side with your knees to your chest.
Once you’ve settled, your doctor will insert a lubricated colonoscope into the rectum. The colonoscope is a thin, long tube with a small video camera at the end. The view from inside your colon is transmitted to a nearby monitor, allowing your doctor to see any abnormalities in your digestive structures.
To improve the view transmitted by the colonoscope, your physician may pump air into your colon. If an abnormal growth is detected, such as a polyp, it will be removed and sent to a lab for further analysis.
Removing polyps from the colon effectively reduces your risk of developing colon cancer. Depending on the polyps‘ size and number, you may be asked to undergo a repeat colonoscopy within 3 to 5 years.
The entire procedure usually takes 30 minutes to an hour to complete. You will be taken to a separate room to recover as the sedative wears off. Once you’re in better condition, your doctor will discuss the results with you. If there are no polyps or abnormal tissue in your colon, you can expect to retake the test in 10 years.
Colonoscopy in California
By detecting and removing polyps before they turn cancerous, a colonoscopy can end up saving your life. If you would like to explore colonoscopy and its alternatives, visit the experts at inSite Digestive Health Care. Our highly skilled gastroenterologists can safely perform colonoscopy and, if necessary, polyp removal. We will also teach you how to take care of your colon through healthy eating habits and lifestyle modifications.
To schedule an appointment, you can choose from our vast network of affiliated clinics across California. If you can’t visit our clinic but would like to check if you’re a good candidate for a colonoscopy, we also offer telehealth services. Give us a call today and allow us to help you protect your colon!