Your Health Lindsay Guinaugh | 2 years ago

Six Common Questions About Colonoscopies

Once you hit the big five zero, your physician will recommend a colonoscopy if you haven’t already had one. You’ll have questions. We have answers from an expert.

Nicholas Anthony, MD, a gastroenterologist with Charlotte Medical Clinic-Pineville, part of Carolinas HealthCare System, answers six of the most common questions he’s asked about colonoscopies.

1. How can colonoscopies help prevent colon cancer?

A colonoscopy serves two purposes: To catch colon cancer early when it is easiest to treat, and to remove pre-cancerous polyps that would eventually become colon cancer.

2. How long will it take? Will I be asleep?

Generally, a colonoscopy takes about 30 minutes to complete. If deep sedation (propofol) is used, then you will sleep through the entire procedure. Some patients may be in a “twilight” sleep, putting them in a very relaxed and comfortable state.

3. Will I have to miss several days of work?

At most, you’ll have to clear your schedule for a day or so: the night before the procedure for the prep and the day of the colonoscopy, as you’re likely to be groggy afterwards. If you’re worried about missing work, we now offer Saturday appointments.

4. If you find polyps, are they always removed?

Polyps come in different shapes and sizes. The most common pre-cancerous type of polyp is called an adenoma. Generally, these are removed during the procedure and based on the size and microscopic features, the patient is put on a schedule for continued routine screenings. Benign polyps also can be found during examination. These are called hyperplastic polyps. These are removed, and do not put the patient at increased risk for the development of colon cancer.

5. What are some early warning signs of colon cancer?

Most people with colon cancer have NO early signs or symptoms, which is why it is so important to be screened. When cancer is caught in its earliest stages, treatments are often more successful and the likelihood of survival is far greater. In some cases, patients do experience symptoms of colon cancer, which may include abdominal pain, changes in bowel habit, blood in stool (either red or tar-like), anemia and weight loss.

6. If I have Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, how often should I be screened?

If you have Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, it is generally recommended you have a colonoscopy screening eight years after you were first diagnosed. The screening recommendations differ for each patient, which is why it’s important to speak with your doctor. Usually, I recommend Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis patients are screened every one to three years. To schedule a colonoscopy or for more information, call 704-512-6933