Adults ages 45 to 75 with an average risk for developing colon cancer should be screened with a colonoscopy examination at set intervals. This highly reliable and easily tolerated test involves visual inspection of the large intestine with a thin, lighted endoscope. However, special preparation is required before a colonoscopy.
Here’s how you can prepare for this screening and where you can go for one in Westlake and Brooklyn, Ohio.
What Is a Colonoscopy, Who Needs One,and Why?
A colonoscopy examination takes real-time video and still images of the interior of the large intestine. Gastroenterologists perform this routine screening test to visualize and remove mushroom-like adenomas, or polyps, from the lining of the bowel.
These growths, while benign, can develop into cancer if not detected and removed. All polyps removed by your GI doctor during your colonoscopy examination will be biopsied or tested for cancer in a hospital laboratory.
Besides removing adenomas, the gastroenterologist uses colonoscopy examination to investigate chronic conditions, such as diverticulosis, and to gather diagnostic information related to symptoms of bleeding, bloating, and other digestive problems.
Colonoscopy is today’s gold standard for cancer detection in the large bowel and rectum. Testing should continue past the age of 75 at the provider’s and patient’s discretion. After 85, colon cancer screening with colonoscopy is no longer recommended.
How Do I Prepare for My Colonoscopy?
Colonoscopy does take some advanced preparation. The objectives of this preparation include allowing the doctor to get a very clear view of the bowel wall and to visualize polyps and other irregularities. Additionally, the preparation ensures the patient has no medical complications such as bleeding.
Accordingly, your GI specialist will inform you when to stop any vitamins, supplements, and medications (such as blood thinners and iron pills) you currently take. You may take some necessary medications on the day of your procedure as your provider allows.
The day before your colonoscopy, you must abstain from all solid foods and all red/purple liquids. You will follow a clear liquid diet throughout the day, consuming:
- Sports drinks, such as Gatorade
- Kool-Aid and other clear flavored drinks (avoid carbonated sodas)
- Fruit juice (with no pulp)
- Flavored gelatins
- Clear, strained vegetable or meat-based broths
- Popsicles and ices (with no dairy content)
In the evening, you will take bowel cleansing medications. Typically, these are clear, water-based laxatives that remove residual stools from the large bowel. Your colonoscopy team will inform you of exactly what to take, in what quantity, and when. On the morning of your test, you will continue with the laxative drinks as directed and abstain from food and smoking.
Finally, get a good night’s sleep directly before your test. Arrive on time and bring your health insurance card and photo identification. Bring along a responsible adult to drive you home from your procedure. A driver is necessary because you will be sedated for your test, although you will be awake and responsive to commands. In all, a colonoscopy takes under an hour.
Colon Cancer Screening in Westlake and Brooklyn, Ohio
At North Shore Gastroenterology & Endoscopy Centers, we have 10 board-certified GI physicians who commend the benefits of routine colon cancer screening with colonoscopy. Our team is highly skilled and experienced and will make you comfortable all the way through your test.