7 Questions About Your Colonoscopy
Going in for a colonoscopy might not be anyone’s idea of a fun way to spend an afternoon, but it’s something that everyone over the age of 50 should do. Colorectal cancer is the second most common cancer in the U.S. and one of the leading causes of cancer death among both men and women. The best way to prevent colorectal cancer is to get a colonoscopy. Knowing more about what the procedure actually involves can help encourage people to go get screened, so here are answers to some of the most common questions I get asked about colon screenings:
- Why do I need a colonoscopy? Colon cancer is an exceedingly common cancer, and if it isn’t detected early, it can be a very lethal disease. The best way to prevent colon cancer is to go in for a colonoscopy. During the procedure, doctors look for polyps--precancerous growths that form in the lining of the colon and rectum--and remove them before they can develop into full-blown cancer. Polyps can grow and develop for several years before a person ever starts to exhibit symptoms of colon cancer. That’s why it’s important to catch them early and eliminate them before they have a chance to cause trouble.
- At what age do I need to go in for a screening? When you turn 50 (or soon after), you should make an appointment to get screened. If no cancer or polyps turn up during your first screening, you only need to come in for additional screenings once every 10 years. If you’re someone with a family history of colon cancer, you should talk to your doctor about getting screened earlier or more often.
- What’s the prep for a colonoscopy like? Patients are required to go on a clear liquid diet for 24 hours prior to their screening. They also have to take a salty solution to flush out the bowels before the procedure (1 dose is taken the night before and another dose is taken the morning of the screening).
- Will it hurt? Not at all! Colonoscopies are done under sedation; not only do we make sure that patients are completely comfortable during the procedure, but most of them don’t remember anything about it when it’s over.
- How long does the procedure take? Just 30 minutes.
- Does someone need to drive me to the hospital? Because patients are sedated during the procedure, you’ll need someone to drive you home afterwards.
- Will my insurance pay for it? Insurances vary greatly, though do most cover colonoscopy screening with a minimal co-pay. Be sure to check with your insurance company so you know what your covering is.
March may be Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, but you can make an appointment to get your colon screened any time (and for patients over 50, the sooner the better).
To schedule your colonoscopy screening, contact Fort HealthCare Surgical Associates at (920) 563-7900 or the Lake Mills clinic at (920) 648-8393. Or, speak with your primary care provider, and they can help you with a referral for an appointment.