As the only physician in my family, it is fairly common for family members to approach me for medical advice. As everyone ages, the complexity and range of questions continues to expand. Often I am not sure if they are testing me or if they are seeking a “second” opinion for what has already been suggested to them by their doctor.
One of the toughest conversations we have is regarding colonoscopy screening. Obviously, it involves a sensitive subject, but I feel it’s important that we all understand the potentially life-saving benefits of early detection of colon cancer.
Colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths and the third most common cancer. If detected during screening, colon cancer cure rates can reach 90%. If cancer is detected after symptoms such as rectal bleeding, weight loss, and change in bowel habits have already started, then cure rates drop to less than 80%.
The bottom line is that you can prevent this deadly cancer with routine screening.
I tell my friends and family that they should think of a colonoscopy the same way they think of visiting the dentist twice a year or regularly changing the oil in their vehicle.
Age 50 (or sooner if there is any history of colon cancer in your family) is about the time you should start thinking of scheduling your procedure. You will be given instructions for a liquid diet and a bowel preparation to cleanse your colon the day before the procedure. You can work that day because the prep begins in the evening. Polyps can be as small as 1-2 millimeters in size, so it is very important to complete the prep and allow your doctor to get good clean pictures.
On the day of the procedure, you will meet your team of health professionals and start an IV. You will be wheeled to the procedure room and sedation will be started through the IV. The next thing you will remember is waking up in the recovery area. The procedure takes from 15-45 minutes. After the procedure, there are no dietary restrictions and you can return to normal activity the following day.
At Evansville Surgical Associates, your doctor will always be available to see you before and after your colonoscopy to answer any questions you or your family may have so that you are assured of proper care.
At Evansville Surgical Associates, we have six board-certified general surgeons with extensive experience with colonoscopies and other colorectal procedures. As surgeons, not only can we perform the colonoscopy, but we can also perform any operations if necessary. You will not have to wait for another doctor’s appointment for another consultation, which takes the stress and waiting out of the equation. The colonoscopy and operative planning are done at the same time.
If you have no symptoms, then screening typically starts at age 50, though it is recommended that African-American individuals start at age 45. If you have a family history of colon cancer, then screenings should begin ten years prior to the age at which your family member was first diagnosed. If symptoms are already present, then a colonoscopy is necessary at that time.
An Evansville Surgical Associates surgeon can perform colonoscopies at multiple locations throughout Evansville. We will schedule the time and location of your procedure based on your preferences. To learn more about colonoscopies or to schedule an appointment, click here or call 424-8231 or 800-264-8231.