What You Should Know About a Colonoscopy

Posted By Author on May 26, 2021

Colon cancer screenings save lives. It’s that simple. While colorectal cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer in men and women combined in the United States, it is also highly treatable when detected early.

Better education and increased awareness are powerful prevention tools, which is why Charleston GI is committed to spreading the word. For colon cancer screening in Charleston, contact us today!

The procedure is simple. Your doctor will use a thin, flexible tube with a light and camera to examine your colon, checking for polyps, tumors, bleeding or ulcers. You will be sedated the whole time, and the entire process – from the minute you arrive until the moment you leave – takes only about two hours. Before you know it, you’ll be on your way!

Possible Symptoms of Colorectal Cancer

If you experience the following symptoms of colon cancer, contact your Charleston colonoscopy doctor, especially if you have a family history of colorectal cancer:

  • Change in bowel habits lasting more than a few weeks
  • Persistent sensation of needing to have a bowel movement
  • Rectal bleeding or blood in the stool
  • Stomach discomfort, bloating or abdominal pain
  • Unexplained weakness or fatigue
  • Unintentional weight loss

Risk Factors for Colorectal Cancer

Several risk factors can increase your chances of colorectal cancer:

  • Personal and family history
    Patients with siblings, parents or children who have developed colorectal cancer have a higher risk of getting it themselves.
  • Age
    Because colon cancer is becoming more prevalent in younger adults, the American Cancer Society has lowered the recommended age for a first colon cancer screening from 50 to 45 years old. But about 90% of new diagnoses occur in adults 50 or older.
  • Race
    African Americans face a higher risk of colorectal cancer.
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
    Those suffering from IBD, Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis are more likely to develop colorectal cancer.
  • Lifestyle
    Lifestyle choices play a role in your risk as well. Smoking, heavy alcohol use, obesity and diets rich in red/processed meats are all risk factors.

How to Prepare for Your Colonoscopy

Your Charleston colonoscopy doctor will prescribe a bowel prep kit with the following instructions:

  • Stick to a clear liquid diet the day before your procedure.
  • Drink the prep solution.
  • Keep hydrated during the bowel prep process by drinking clear liquids – such as water, apple or white grape juice, black coffee, tea, clear broths, etc.
  • Do NOT eat or drink anything the morning of the procedure.
  • Be sure to let your doctor know if you:
    • Have a history of bleeding disorders.
    • Are pregnant or think you may be pregnant.
    • Are taking any medications (prescription, over-the-counter, vitamins, etc).

Other Colorectal Cancer Screening Tests

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, other screening options utilize stool samples to detect blood in the stool. Stool test include:

  • Fecal immunochemical test (FIT)
  • FIT-DNA test
  • Guaiac-based fecal occult blood test (gFOBT)

Talk with your doctor about which option is best for you, based on your risk factors. Remember that your colon cancer screening is an important decision.

Call Charleston GI Today!

Our team is committed to providing the best healthcare experience possible, something we call a higher standard of caring. To learn more about colon cancer and how to prevent it, contact Charleston GI today!