Colonoscopies are perhaps best known as the gold standard in colon cancer prevention. These screenings allow your gastroenterologist to look at the lining of the large intestine (colon) and rectum for any abnormal growths called polyps. In almost all cases, colon cancer starts with these polyps.
Colon cancer is the third most common cancer in the nation – and one of the most preventable types of cancer, if precancerous polyps are found early.
During this procedure, patients are intravenously sedated and a thin, flexible tube is inserted into the rectum and gently guided through the entire length of the colon. The tube includes a camera and light source, allowing the doctor to view the GI tract on a monitor in the room in real time. Any polyps found during the colonoscopy are typically removed during the procedure.
Screening colonoscopies are recommended for everyone beginning at age 50. For those at higher risk of developing colon cancer, screening should begin sooner.
Colon Cancer Screening FAQs
The primary purpose of a screening colonoscopy is to look for small growths in the colon called polyps. Because they may turn into cancer, they are typically removed during the procedure for biopsy.
Colonoscopies may also be used to look for evidence of colon cancer, hemorrhoids, inflammatory bowel disease, and other disorders of the large intestine ("colon").
Currently, colonoscopies are the only procedure that can identify and remove polyps in the large intestine at the same time.
A bowel prep cleans out the large intestine so that your doctor can better view it without obstruction during the colonoscopy.
Bowel prep typically involves following a clear-liquids-only diet the day before the colonoscopy, as well as laxatives taken the night before the procedure.
Typically, a colonoscopy lasts under an hour.
Being bloated or passing gas are common side effects of a colonoscopy because air was blown into the colon during the procedure to make it easier to maneuver the flexible tube through the large intestine. However, these symptoms should go away within an hour or so after the procedure.
If you're 50 or older, it's time to schedule your colon cancer screening. Call the gastrointestinal experts at Oceana Gastroenterology Associates at (951) 934-0505; they'll make the whole process an easy, painless one. Feel free to call or use the appointment request form to schedule your consultation with Dr. M. Mazen Jamal.