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Early Detection. Effective Treatment. Convenient Access.
Not counting skin cancers, colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer found in men and women in the United States, according to the American Cancer Society. But the good news is that, in many cases, colorectal cancer can be prevented and treated if caught early through a screening colonoscopy. Colorectal cancer almost always starts with a small growth called a polyp. If the polyp is found early, doctors can remove it and stop colorectal cancer before it starts.
What is a Colonoscopy?
A colonoscopy is a diagnostic procedure that allows the doctor to examine the entire length of your large intestine. The procedure uses a flexible, lighted tube called an endoscope to examine your bowel and identify potential problems, such as:
- Inflamed tissue or ulcers
- Polyps or signs of colorectal cancer
- Gastrointestinal bleeding
- Pouches or tumors
- Narrowing of the colon
Your doctor may remove polyps or tissue samples for further tests or treat any problems while the colonoscopy is underway.
What to Expect
A day or two before your colonoscopy, you'll need to completely cleanse your colon to give the doctor a clear view of its surface.
Your doctor will explain what happens during the procedure and give you the chance to ask questions. You’ll also sign a consent form.
Preparation is one of the biggest concerns regarding colonoscopies, but fear shouldn’t stop you from scheduling your screening.
According to the American College of Gastroenterology, there are a variety of preparation methods for colonoscopy ranging from liquids (of varying quantity) with or without enemas, to pills, which rid your colon of feces. A clean colon is essential to allow for a careful examination for polyps or other abnormalities. Your doctor can discuss and prescribe the most appropriate preparation method for you, taking into account various factors such as your age, personal preferences, kidney function and physical stamina.
After Your Colonoscopy
Immediately following the procedure, you’ll be taken to a recovery room for observation. Once the sedation has worn off and you’re alert, your physician will discuss your outcome with you. Then, you’ll either be taken to a hospital room or discharged.
Speed Your Recovery
You may be asked to fast for a few hours or avoid high-fiber foods for the first 24 hours after the procedure. It’s normal to experience flatulence (passing gas) and gas pains after a colonoscopy. Walking or moving around can help ease any discomfort.
Avoid alcohol for at least 24 hours, but be sure to drink extra fluids to make up for water lost during the preparation procedure.
Watch for These Signs
Notify your doctor if you experience:
- Fever and/or chills
- Frequent bloody stools
- Abdominal pain and/or bloating
- Inability to pass gas
Who Should be Screened?
Early detection guidelines from the American Cancer Society recommend colorectal screenings beginning at age 50, with a colonoscopy recommended every 10 years.
Talk to your doctor about when and how often you need a colonoscopy. You may need to start screenings earlier and schedule them more often if you have any of these colorectal cancer risk factors:
- Family history of colorectal cancer or adenomatous polyps in a parent or sibling before age 60 or in two immediate relatives of any age
- Family history of hereditary colorectal cancer syndromes, such as familial adenomatous polyposis or hereditary nonpolyposis colon cancer
- Personal history or colorectal cancer or adenomatous polyps
- Personal history of inflammatory bowel disease
Direct Access Colonoscopy Scheduling
Screening for colorectal cancer allows for the early detection of cancer when it is highly curable, as well as the detection of growths (known as polyps) that could become cancerous.
To make it as easy as possible for our patients to schedule a colonoscopy appointment, some Crozer-Keystone physicians now offer “direct access” scheduling for screening colonoscopies. This means that a separate consultation visit at the physician’s office is not required.
To be eligible, patients must be between the ages of 50 and 75, and they must be asymptomatic and in generally good health. All procedures are subject to insurance verification.
Screening colonoscopy is performed as an outpatient procedure. You will be asked to follow some easy preparations on the day before the test. During the test, medication will be administered to allow you to fall asleep and rest comfortably throughout the procedure.
To make it as easy as possible for you to schedule a colonoscopy appointment, some Crozer-Keystone physicians now offer "direct access" scheduling for patients who are between the ages of 50 and 75, asymptomatic and in generally good health. This means you get a colonoscopy on your first visit with no extra trips to the doctor’s office, saving you time.
Whether you meet the "direct access" criteria or not, contact us today and we will help you schedule your colonoscopy. Call (610) 619-7475 or use the online Appointment Request Form to schedule an appointment today.
Medicare and most insurance plans cover colorectal cancer screenings, including colonoscopy, for individuals over 50. Read your plan or check with your agent for your specific coverage information.