5 Answers to your Frequently Asked Colonoscopy Questions
Part of living a healthier lifestyle includes staying proactive when it comes to annual health screenings like colonoscopies. Jane Clauss talks to Dr. Deepa Shah, a gastroenterologist with Honor Health and gives answers to your questions about colonoscopies.
1- Why is colorectal health awareness important?
Colon cancer is the third most leading cause of cancer mortality, but it is preventable. With screenings like colonoscopies, doctors are able to find and remove polyps and prevent cancer. Hyper-plastic polyps are not cancerous but most other polyps are typically precancerous and increase the risk of colon cancer. Colonoscopies are important to check for these precancerous polyps and can prevent colon cancer.
2- What exactly is a colonoscopy?
A colonoscopy is an examination that usually happens every ten years unless otherwise recommended by your doctor. This exam allows the doctor to look at the colon and rectum with a lighted flexible tube that goes into the rectum and throughout the colon. They are looking for polyps and other abnormalities. If they see polyps, they remove them and you may have to come back sooner than ten years for another exam depending on the size and histology of the polyp, and how many were found.
3- How long does the exam take?
The patient usually has to check in at least one hour before the exam. The exam itself is usually scheduled for thirty minutes, and the patient is then in recovery for about twenty minutes to make sure there are no complications from the procedure or the anesthesia.
4- How do you prep for a colonoscopy?
Prepping for the exam is simple. 24 hours before your exam, you should shift to a clear-liquid diet. Foods and drinks like jello, beef or chicken broth, clear sports drinks, or clear fruit juices without pulp are some good options when prepping for the exam. The prep comes in a little bottle that has a fill line on it. You have to put the packet in the bottle and fill it to the line with water. There are two stages of the prep, one is usually drank around 6-8 p.m. the night before and the second is usually had early the next morning.
5- What is the recommended age to get a screening and who should get it?
The recommended age to get a screening in the United States is all adults from ages 50-75, typically every ten years unless otherwise recommended by a doctor. If your family has a strong history of colon cancer, there could be genetics involved and you should reach out to your doctor about potentially getting screened sooner.
Getting screened regularly is important because if you have polyps or early stages of colon cancer, you can prevent it, live longer, and have a healthier life. Hopefully these answers to your questions about colonoscopies will help ease your nerves before your next colonoscopy.
Jane is a trusted voice when it comes to health, wellness, medicine, and fitness. As the long-time host of Living Healthy TV she’s interviewed the best experts in the world of health and wellness to bring the story to you.