The Facts About Colonoscopies – and Why They Matter to You

Colonoscopy is an essential tool in the battle against colon cancer. The death rate from colon cancer has been steadily declining over the past 15 years, in great part, to the use of cancer screening protocols using colonoscopy. This exam not only safely and effectively finds cancer early, but more importantly can prevent most cancer from occurring by removing precancerous growths called polyps.

The American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy recommends the exam for men and women over the age of 50, age of 45 for African Americans. Patients with family history of colon cancer or certain conditions such as ulcerative colitis may need to be examined even earlier.

Understanding the Colonoscopy Procedure

Most people, who avoid getting a colonoscopy, are concerned with taking a bowel preparation. Unfortunately this is still required before each exam. Patients are put on a modified diet the day before the examination. Later, a laxative is consumed which will lead to having multiple bowel movements beginning in the evening. Over the past several years, there have been marked improvements in the taste of the preps and the need to drink smaller volumes of laxative to get the desired results.

The Examination Day

Generally, additional laxative is consumed in the morning 4 hours prior to the colonoscopy. Nothing else is consumed after that so the stomach is empty by the time you arrive at the center. After a brief introduction to the unit by nursing staff, the procedure will begin.

Colonoscopies take approximately 15-30 minutes to complete.

Most patients have no symptoms after the procedure. Although you may feel surprisingly awake at the time of discharge, it is important not to drive a car until the following day when we can be sure the complete effects of the sedation have left your system.

If you think an examination is due, it can be arranged for promptly with Putnam Gastroenterology at our new state of the art endoscopy center adjacent to our office.


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50,000 people in the U.S. succumb to colon cancer each year, and it’s estimated at least 30,000 of these deaths could be avoided with proper colonic screening.

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