Colon cancer symptoms don't usually appear until the disease is advanced and more difficult to treat. Fortunately, cancer can often be detected in its earlier stages during a colon cancer screening. Screening is performed by your gastroenterologists at Southern Gastroenterology Specialist in Locust Grove, Riverdale, Jackson and Stockbridge, GA.
What happens during a colon cancer screening?
Colon cancer screenings are performed during a minimally invasive procedure called a colonoscopy. During the test, your doctor can see real-time digital images of the lining of your large intestine and the lower part of your small intestine. Viewing these images allows him to spot polyps or lesions that could be signs of cancer. During the test, he or she will remove polyps or take small samples from suspicious spots and send the samples to a laboratory for testing. Polyps are small growths that can be non-cancerous, pre-cancerous or cancerous.
Preparation for a colonoscopy begins at home. You'll need to use laxatives to clear out fecal material from your gastrointestinal system and follow a liquid diet temporarily. This step ensures that your doctor has a clear view of your intestines during the test.
Before your colonoscopy begins, you'll receive a sedative and probably won't remember anything about the test. A thin, flexible, lighted probe is inserted into your anus at the beginning of the test. The probe also contains a tiny camera that transmits images of intestines to a digital screen. As the test progresses, the probe will be passed through every inch of your colon.
Your gastroenterologist will discuss the results of the colonoscopy with you immediately after your colonoscopy. If biopsies were taken during the test, you'll talk about the results during your follow-up appointment in the Locust Grove, Riverdale, Jackson or Stockbridge office.
Who needs colon cancer screenings?
Initial colon cancer screenings are recommended at age 45, as colon cancer rates increase with age. If your test is normal, you won't need another colonoscopy for 10 years. Follow-up colonoscopies may be recommended more frequently if you've had colon cancer in the past or had polyps removed.
A colonoscopy can also help your gastroenterologist determine why you have certain gastrointestinal issues, including abdominal pain, rectal bleeding, anemia, unexplained weight loss, chronic constipation or diarrhea, or a change in your bowel habits.
Are you ready to schedule your colon cancer screening? Call your Locust Grove, Riverdale, Jackson and Stockbridge, GA, gastroenterologists at (770) 692-0100 to arrange your visit.