How a Colonoscopy Can Save Your Life

How a Colonoscopy Can Save Your Life

True, no one looks forward to having a colonoscopy. However, there’s no question this test saves lives. March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. Make an appointment today to protect your health tomorrow.

At GastroMed, with offices located throughout Miami, our doctors bring extensive experience to comprehensive gastroenterology care. With state-of-the-art equipment and a comfortable, supportive environment, we provide personalized treatment for a wide range of testing procedures and care.

Colon cancer basics

Colorectal cancer begins in the colon (also known as the large intestine) or rectum. Small, benign growths called polyps are formed from abnormal cells accumulating in the colon's lining. If these polyps go untreated, they can turn into cancer.

While colorectal cancer ranks as the third most commonly diagnosed cancer, it’s the second leading cause of cancer-related death for men and women in the United States. The good news is survival rates have improved since the mid-1980s as awareness and screenings have increased.

Stages of diagnosis and survival rates

Detecting colorectal cancer early is key to the best chance for long-term survival. Nothing makes that clearer than the statistics.

Colonoscopy details

Regular colonoscopies can identify polyps so that they may be removed before they become cancerous. The procedure can also diagnose cancerous growths before the disease has a chance to spread.

On the day before your colonoscopy, you consume only a liquid diet, including a special liquid to fully clear out the bowels. This is necessary for the doctor to view the entire lining of the colon.

On the day of your colonoscopy, you’re sedated while a long, thin, flexible scope is inserted through the anus and moved into your rectum and colon. With a light and camera, the scope allows your GastroMed doctor to view images on a computer monitor to look for polyps, tumors, or abnormal tissue. Polyps or tissue samples can be removed if needed and sent to a lab for testing. The procedure typically takes 20 minutes or less.

After the procedure, you’re sent home to recover. Post-procedure effects can include grogginess from the sedation and bloating. Because of the grogginess, you need to line up a family member or friend to give you a ride home.

Screening recommendations

The American Cancer Society recently updated its guidelines with the recommendation that men and women at average risk should have a colorectal cancer screening starting at age 45 and every 10 years after that.

If you’re at higher risk, such as a previous history of polyps or bowel disease, a family history of colorectal cancer, or other factors, talk to your doctor about what screening timeline is best. This goes also if you exhibit unusual symptoms like abdominal pain, blood, or other changes in your stool or bathroom habits.

If you want to be proactive in preventing the possibility of colorectal cancer, call or click to book an appointment with GastroMed today.

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