At UT Health East Texas, your comfort, care and convenience come first. Every aspect of your screening is carefully designed, from scheduling to the procedure, with your health and time in mind. And since a prescreening appointment or evaluation with a gastroenterologist isn’t necessary for most patients, you’re likely to save time and money, too.
Colorectal cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States, but it doesn’t have to be. This type of cancer can be treated or even prevented through regular screening.
Colon cancer can produce a range of symptoms, but some of the most common ones include new and lasting constipation or diarrhea, bleeding from the rectum, blood in the stool, persistent abdominal pain and/or bloating, frequent vomiting and unexplained weight loss. However, many people show no symptoms at all, which is why colonoscopies are a vital part of your continued health. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, see your doctor for further evaluation.
While there are different types of colorectal cancer screenings, a colonoscopy is the most effective method for your doctor to view your entire colon and look for any areas of concern. However, you should talk to your doctor about what screening option is best for you.
Your physician uses a small camera attached to a thin, flexible tube to examine the entire colon. While looking for any signs of cancer, he or she can detect abnormal growths, known as polyps, in the colon or rectum and remove them before they turn cancerous.
Prior to the procedure, you will receive sedatives through an IV. The entire process generally takes 30 to 60 minutes. You will need someone to drive you home after the procedure.
Adults without a family history of colorectal cancer should begin screening at age 45. If you are African American or your family has a history of colorectal cancer, ask your doctor when you should begin screening. The national recommendation to get screened is every 10 years unless abnormalities are present or the person is at high risk. Contact your health insurance provider to determine if colonoscopy is a covered service for you.
You will receive your colonoscopy preparation instructions well before your procedure date.
You may be required to adjust your diet. You will need to consume a prescription laxative drink that will allow you to empty and clean your bowel entirely before the procedure.
Wear loose clothing and stay near the bathroom. Plan ahead so you have the time and privacy you need to complete the preparation process. Ask your physician any questions you have.
Typically, the only recovery needed is allowing the sedative to wear off. That normally occurs in less than 24 hours. A vast majority of patients return to work the next day. Avoid driving the day of the procedure.