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The Colonoscopy: An Often Overlooked Medical Test For Saving Lives
illustration of a polyp being removed during a colonscopy

During a colonoscopy, colon polyps are removed before they become cancerous. Call GI North today to make an appointment for a colonoscopy, don’t put it off!

Cancers of the colon and rectum have good outcomes if found early, and the colonoscopy is the physician’s preferred procedure for detecting them. People in the early stages of colorectal cancer often have no symptoms. That’s why this screening procedure is so important. Using it, a gastroenterologist (a physician who specializes in disease of the digestive tract) can see colon polyps, which are abnormal growths, and remove them before they become cancerous.

The Procedure

In the colonscopy procedure, the gastroenterologist uses an instrument called a colonoscope. It’s a thin, flexible tube that has a camera and light attached at its end. The gastroenterologist inserts it into the patient’s rectum—the patient’s under sedation to minimize discomfort—to examine the large intestine for polyps, inflamed tissue, ulcers and other abnormalities.

Preparation for a Colonoscopy

Patient preparation for the procedure is important to its success. Doctors will usually instruct patients to begin a diet of only clear liquids 24 hours before the procedure. The physician will also give the patient some kind of bowel preparation medication, which may be a flavored, oral prep, a pill prep or something else. The procedure is generally safe. Complications may include bloating, cramping and bleeding if polyps were removed.

Risk Factors

Being 50 years or older is a risk factor for colorectal cancer. High-risk factors are having the inherited genes for familial adenomatous polyps (FAP) in which the patient has many, many polyps or hereditary non-polyposis colon cancer (HNPCC) in which the patient has few polyps. Inflammatory bowel disease, having a parent, sibling or child with the disease and being African-American are also risk factors. The rates of colorectal cancer in Hispanic men in the U.S. are higher than for Hispanic men in Puerto Rico and South and Central America.

Beginning at age 50, everyone who’s at average risk should have a screening for colorectal cancer every 10 years. High-risk individuals should begin earlier. Many experts suggest 45 for African-Americans. Individuals with family histories of the disease should begin between the ages of 25 and 40, or, as advised by their physicians.

Make an Appointment Today

If you need a colonoscopy, Dr. Cofrancesco serves people in the Atlanta areas of Cumming, Alpharetta, Roswell, Canton, Suwanee and beyond. Call our office at (404) 446-0600, our staff will be happy to answer your questions. GI North is located at 1505 Northside Blvd., Suite 1800, Cumming, GA 30041. GI North’s email address is: info@gi-north.com.

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