Catching Cancer Early
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Screening Colonoscopy Frequently Asked Questions
Emptying your entire digestive system before a colonoscopy is an essential step. It lets your doctor get a clear look at your colon and remove polyps that either are, or may become, cancerous. But it the preparation itself bad? In truth, many consider it the most unpleasant part of the process, but don’t worry! For most, the amount of liquid you’re required to drink in one session has been reduced from the amounts of the past. Chilling the mixture helps and the texture is also a bit easier to drink. Your doctor will do whatever he/she can to help make the process as easy as possible. And a few hours of bathroom time are nothing compared to the lifetime health advantages.
Colonoscopies are considered the best procedure to check for polyps and other abnormalities that can lead to cancer in the colon and rectum. While you’re under a sedative, your physician gently expands your colon with air, then uses a long, flexible scope with a camera to view the rectum and colon, it is also ingeniously equipped to painlessly remove any polyps along the way.
The procedure itself is actually quite short, taking anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour. That being said, you’ll want to clear your schedule for the day and have a driver to take you to and from your appointment, as the effects of the sedative can take several hours to wear off.
Everyone perceives pain differently, but thanks to the light sedative, the vast majority of people experience no pain during the procedure. The most you can expect is some minor abdominal discomfort (like common gas pains) during the recovery period.
Because a light sedative is used during the procedure, most people feel close to their normal selves when they wake up. You can also expect minor abdominal discomfort until you pass the air your doctor uses to expand your colon during the procedure (don’t worry this is normal).
For most people, it’s recommended that you receive your first colonoscopy at age 50 and then repeat the process once every 10 years. However, it’s important to understand your personal risk factors like family history, weight, race and other factors and to talk to your doctor about whether or not earlier screenings are right for you.
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