Whether our Hillsborough, NJ, gastroenterologist Dr. Anubha Sinha has just told you that you could benefit from getting a colonoscopy or a loved one is undergoing this procedure chances are you might have questions. Here are some of the most commonly asked questions regarding colonoscopies so you better understand it once it comes time for you to get one.
What is a colonoscopy?
This procedure allows our Hillsborough, NJ, GI doctor to look at the lining of the large intestines, or colon, to detect certain gastrointestinal issues as well as look for early warning signs of colorectal cancer. In fact, a colonoscopy is the most effective tool we have for the early detection of colorectal cancer.
When is a colonoscopy needed?
Most people assume that unless they are experiencing symptoms of colorectal cancer that they don’t need to get a colonoscopy; however, once you reach 45 years old it’s important that you schedule your first colonoscopy. Those who are at an increased risk for colorectal cancer may want to start getting this exam earlier (discuss your risk with your doctor).
What are the symptoms of colorectal cancer?
During the early stages colorectal cancer doesn’t usually produce symptoms. That’s why getting regular colonoscopies is the very best preventive measure you can take to catch cancer early on when it’s treatable. If a polyp is detected during a routine colonoscopy Dr. Sinha can easily remove it to reduce the risk that it could develop into colorectal cancer.
As colorectal cancer progresses it is common to experience changes in bowels, abdominal pain, unexpected weight loss, and rectal bleeding. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms it’s important that you see a doctor as soon as possible.
What is involved in getting a colonoscopy?
A day or two before your colonoscopy you will drink a special laxative preparation that will clear out your bowels. It is important to follow all instructions when taking this solution to make sure that it’s effective.
A colonoscopy is usually performed under conscious sedation, in which sedation is administered intravenously to help you relax and feel comfortable during the procedure (someone will need to come with you to drive you home). During the procedure, a thin flexible tube with a camera (an endoscope) is directed through the rectum into the large intestines where it shows our doctor the lining of the intestines to spot bleeds, polyps and other issues. Polyps can also be removed during a colonoscopy.
How often will I need to get one?
If you are at moderate risk for developing colorectal cancer and your colonoscopy comes back normal then you may not need to get another one for 10 years. Those at high risk and those with a history of colon polyp should talk with their gastroenterologist about how often they should get a colonoscopy.
Whether you are dealing with gastrointestinal issues or you just turned 45 years old, a colonoscopy could determine what’s causing you distress and protect you from colorectal cancer. Call Hunterdon Digestive Health Specialists in Hillsborough or Flemington, NJ, to schedule your next colonoscopy.