It’s easy to understand why you might have reservations about scheduling a colonoscopy. You may find the concept of the procedure embarrassing or uncomfortable. But gaining knowledge about the process and its purpose might ease your concerns.
In many cases, a colonoscopy can reveal correctable problems and, ultimately, save your life.
Why you should get a colonoscopy
Colorectal cancer affects about 4.3% of men and 4% of women, making it the third most common cancer in America.
A colonoscopy is a screening test that can change these statistics. It allows us, as medical professionals, to catch the disease early. And that early detection can be a life-saver in many cases.
When you should get a colonoscopy
You should get a colonoscopy if you have symptoms of concern, including:
- Chronic diarrhea
- Blood in your stool
- Pain in your lower abdomen
- Irregular bowel movements
- Frequent gas pains
- Unexplained weight loss
If you don’t have any of these symptoms, the current recommendations are for you to begin screenings at the age of 50 as a precautionary measure.
How the colonoscopy procedure works
The day before your procedure, you eliminate everything from your bowels by taking laxatives and fasting. The next day, when you arrive for your colonoscopy, we give you a sedative to relax you and make you sleep.
A colonoscope is used to visualize your entire colon. The device has a light and a video camera on the end of a flexible tube, allowing us an up-close look at the inside of your bowels by way of an external monitor. We’re also able to take biopsies and remove polyps or other abnormal-looking tissue.
The procedure only takes about 30-60 minutes. Your recovery is painless, but you need someone to drive you home, and we recommend that you rest for the remainder of the day.
If we remove polyps, you may notice some blood in your stool after the procedure. You may also feel a bit bloated for a while, but this side effect should pass within hours.
Results of your colonoscopy are usually immediate. But if we take polyps or biopsies, you may have to wait a few days for the lab findings to return.
If your results are normal, we encourage you to get a colonoscopy every 10 years until you’re 75. If we find issues of concern, we can address them and treat them. We consult with you about your treatment options once you’ve been diagnosed.
This painless procedure can detect issues of concern that we can address before they progress. If you have colorectal cancer and we catch it early with a colonoscopy, your survival rate is 90%. That’s why it’s important to get your screening test.
To schedule a consultation with our team about getting a colonoscopy, contact us today by calling or using our online tool. You can also access our telehealth service if that’s more convenient for you. Our offices are in Gillette and Casper, Wyoming.