A colonoscopy is a procedure in which a GI specialist uses a colonoscope– a long, flexible tube with a tiny camera attached at its tip to examine the colon and rectum in real time for abnormalities (e.g., polyps) indicative of disease, such as cancer.
A colonoscopy is deemed the gold standard for colon cancer detection, and has been touted by experts for its life-saving benefits—reducing colon cancer-related fatalities by up to 72 percent. With the alarming prevalence of colon cancer in the United States, various public health organizations work to shine a spotlight on the importance of getting routine colonoscopies.
If you’re wondering when or why you might need to get a colonoscopy, below are the specific reasons your GI specialist might recommend it.
You Have Symptoms
Colon cancer does not always present symptoms in its early stages. When symptoms—such as
unexplained abdominal pain, purulent stools, chronic diarrhea or constipation, and rectal bleeding—do appear, they likely vary depending on the location or size of cancer. It is worth keeping in mind that these can also overlap those of other digestive conditions, and therefore, do not always point to colon cancer.
A colonoscopy essentially allows your GI specialist to ascertain whether those symptoms are indeed of colon cancer, and work to contain it before it spreads to other areas of the body. A colonoscopy also has a therapeutic application, and thus, a GI specialist can use it to remove polyps when they’re found during the screening.
If the polyps are too large to be removed safely via a colonoscopy, your doctor will use the results thereof to recommend a suitable intervention, the most common of which is surgery.
You Have Strong Factors
You have a greater risk for colon cancer if someone in your family has been diagnosed with it. Other risk factors include obesity, poor dietary choices (frequent consumption of ultra-processed foods), lack of exercise, inflammatory bowel disease, and a personal history of polyps or noncancerous tumors.
If you have an average risk, meaning you are asymptomatic, or you have none of the risk factors mentioned above, your GI specialist will likely recommend that you undergo a colonoscopy at age 45, with the next one done within 5 to 10 years. However, if you have strong risk factors, your GI specialist will likely recommend a colonoscopy earlier than age 45.
Colon cancer is preventable, treatable, and even beatable if detected at stages 0, I, II, III, or when it is just localized in the bowel.
Colonoscopy in California
While invasive and notorious for the extensive preparation it entails, colonoscopy is a relatively quick and painless procedure, lasting not more than an hour. Your GI specialist will take all necessary measures to keep you relaxed and comfortable throughout the procedure.
For first-rate colonoscopy services in California, visit us here at inSite Digestive Health Care. Our highly credentialed GI specialists are committed to delivering patient care that is personalized, compassionate, and attentive while ensuring the most reliable results.
We also offer alternatives to colonoscopy in case you prefer something less invasive. In our facility, your comfort and overall experience are our top priority, which means we respect your preferences when it comes to your care.