Safe and effective tool for cancer screening
Colorectal cancer is the third-most common cancer in the United States. But if detected and treated in its earliest stages (Stage l) colorectal cancer patients can have nearly a 90% survival rate. The American Cancer Society recommends colorectal cancer screenings for all adults over age 50 and for African-American adults over 45.
Cancer of the colon and rectum – called colorectal cancer (CRC) – occurs when a growth (polyp) on the lining of the colon has become malignant, or cancerous. Colorectal cancer can be cured, especially when detected early.
Colonoscopy for colon cancer
Colonoscopy is a safe and effective way to evaluate problems such as:
- Rectal bleeding or blood in the stool
- Rectal or abdominal pain
- Changes in bowel habits, such as chronic diarrhea
At Utah Gastroenterology our highly trained doctors use the colonoscope, an instrument to look inside the colon. This colonoscope is a long, thin, flexible tube with a tiny video camera and a light on the end. By adjusting the various controls on the colonoscope, the doctors can carefully guide the instrument in any direction to look at the inside of the colon. The high-quality picture from the colonoscope is shown on a TV monitor and gives a clear, detailed view. Colonoscopy is an important way to check for colon cancer and colon polyps. Polyps are abnormal growths on the inside lining of the colon; they vary in size and shape. Most polyps are not cancerous, but some may turn into cancer. So when polyps are detected, they are removed through a technique called polypectomy.
When needed, other instruments can be passed through the colonoscope. These may be used, for example, to painlessly remove a suspicious-looking growth or to biopsy, that is, take a small piece of tissue for further analysis.
Before the procedure
Regardless of the reason colonoscopy has been recommended for you, there are important steps that you can take to best prepare for and participate in the procedure.
- Please read all the prep instructions given to you and follow all the steps. You can access the prep instructions under Patient Resource or by clicking on the prep instructions button on the left side.
- If you are over 80 years of age, on blood thinners such as warfarin (Coumadin) and/or have serious medical conditions, then you will be asked to schedule an office visit with your gastroenterologist prior to the colonoscopy. Otherwise, a nurse from our office will call you prior to your scheduled procedure. The nurse will ask you about your medical history.
- Give the nurse a complete list of all medicines you are taking, including over-the-counter medications and natural supplements. It is especially important to discuss diabetic medications with the nurse or your physician before the test.
Prepare your colon for the test
- You will be given instructions in advance that will outline what you should and should not do in preparation for colonoscopy; be sure to read and follow these instructions.
- One very critical step is to thoroughly clean out the colon, which, for many patients, can be the most difficult part of the entire exam. It is essential that you complete this step carefully, because how well the bowel is emptied will help determine how well your doctor can examine it during colonoscopy.
- If your colon is not emptied of stool, then the exam cannot be done.
- Various methods can be used to help cleanse the bowel, and your doctor will recommend what he or she prefers in your specific case. Whichever method or combination of methods is recommended for you, be sure to follow instructions as directed.
During the procedure
Everything will be done to ensure that you will be as comfortable as possible.
- An intravenous line, or IV, will be placed to give you medication to make you relaxed and drowsy.
- Once you are fully relaxed, your doctor will first do a rectal exam and then begin the procedure.
- The time needed for colonoscopy will vary, depending in part on what is found and what is done; on average, the procedure takes about 30 minutes.
Afterward, you will be cared for in a recovery area until most of the effects of the medication have worn off. At this time:
- Your doctor will inform you about the results of your colonoscopy and provide any additional information you need to know.
- You will also be given instructions regarding how soon you can eat and drink, plus other guidelines for resuming your normal routine.
- Most patients experience no discomfort after the procedure. Some feel mild bloating or "gas cramps" that dissipate within 15 to 30 minutes.
- Rarely, bloating or mild cramping persists up to 24 hours after the procedure.
- Plan to rest for the remainder of the day after your colonoscopy.
- No driving, so you will need to arrange to have a family member or friend take you home.
After the colonoscopy
A day or so after you are home, you might speak with a member of the colonoscopy team for follow-up, or you may have questions you want to ask the doctor directly. If biopsies were taken or if polyps were removed, you will be called with biopsy results five to seven days after the procedure.
We can schedule these lifesaving exams quickly and perform them in the comfort of our endoscopy center to rule out cancer and help you get lifesaving treatments immediately. To learn more about colonoscopy and other endoscopic procedures, call us at 801-944-3199. For your convenience, you can book your preferred consultation time with a GI doctor using our online Request an Appointment form. Our colonoscopy patients come to us from Riverton, St. George, West Jordan, Cottonwood, Millcreek, Murray, Sandy, Salt Lake City, Bountiful and Draper.