Who is a Candidate for a Colonoscopy?
A colonoscopy can help reduce your chances of developing colorectal cancer and can also catch this type of cancer in its earliest, most treatable stages. It also helps your doctor diagnose certain intestinal conditions.
In this blog, the board-certified NYC gastroenterologists at Gramercy Park Digestive Disease Center (GPDDC) explain who’s a good candidate for an NYC colonoscopy.
What is a colonoscopy?
A colonoscopy is a test that allows your doctor to closely examine the inner lining of your large intestine, which is made up of the colon and rectum. A colonoscope – a thin, flexible instrument with a tiny video camera – is utilized to send pictures of the lining to a TV screen so your doctor can view them during the exam and record them for further analysis.
Why is a colonoscopy performed?
A colonoscopy may be performed for one or more of the following reasons:
- Colon cancer screening – Colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in the U.S., and a colonoscopy can be used to detect polyps that can sometimes – but not always – indicate cancer. If your doctor sees polyps, he or she can remove them for further testing. A colonoscopy is often recommended starting at age 50, but if you have additional risk factors for colon cancer other than age, your doctor may recommend that you start testing earlier.
- Intestinal symptoms – If you’ve been experiencing intestinal problems such as abdominal pain, chronic diarrhea, or rectal bleeding, a colonoscopy can help your doctor look for the cause. It can also be used to watch or treat inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
- Follow up – Your doctor may perform a colonoscopy as a follow-up to an earlier test if you had polyps. He or she can look for new polyps and remove them.
Who is a candidate for a colonoscopy?
If you have an average risk of developing colon cancer, the American Cancer Society recommends that you get a colonoscopy every 10 years starting at age 50.
However, you may need to be screened earlier and/or more often if you have any of the following conditions:
- Previous colorectal cancer or polyps
- A history of inflammatory bowel disease
- A strong family history of polyps or colorectal cancer
- A family history of a hereditary colorectal cancer syndrome
- Intestinal symptoms that warrant further investigation
What can you expect?
Before your NYC colonoscopy, you’ll have to empty your colon so your doctor can have an unobstructed view during the exam. You may have to do the following:
- Make dietary changes the day before
- Take a special laxative
- Adjust or stop medications
During the test, you’ll be sedated to make you more comfortable. You’ll lie on your side, and your doctor will carefully guide the colonoscope into your rectum. This tool also allows your doctor to pump small amounts of air to inflate your colon so it can be better viewed.
If necessary, your doctor can take small tissue samples for further study or remove polyps during your NYC colonoscopy.
The procedure takes about 20 minutes to an hour, and you’ll need someone to drive you home afterward because of the sedation. Your doctor will discuss findings with you when your anesthesia wears off and make a follow-up appointment if needed.
If you have intestinal symptoms, are age 50 or older, or are a higher risk of developing colon cancer, make an appointment today with Gramercy Park Digestive Disease Center to discuss whether you should have an NYC colonoscopy. Our board-certified gastroenterology physicians will make a recommendation based on your specific needs and circumstances.