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FAQ About Colonoscopy

Why do I need a colonoscopy if I feel fine and nothing is wrong?

Colon cancer is the third leading cause of death in the United States, but highly preventable. Colorectal cancer usually has no noticeable symptoms until advanced stages and then it’s much harder to treat. Detecting and removing polyps greatly reduces the likelihood of developing colorectal cancer in the future. If cancer is present, detecting it early before symptoms occur can increase your chances of survival.

When should I have a colonoscopy?

Screening colonoscopy exams are recommended for men and women starting at age 50, unless you are African-American, screenings should start at age 45. If you have a family history of colon cancer or polyps, screenings may start at an earlier age. Individuals with other conditions such as Crohns Disease or Ulcerative Colitis are recommended to have more frequent screening.

Do I just need one exam and then I’m done?

For men and women without family history or other risk factors, colonoscopy screening should be repeated every 10 years. Should your physician find and/or remove polyps during your screening, you may be asked to return sooner than 10 years based on what type of polyp was removed.

What are colon polyps?

Polyps are noncancerous growths in the lining of your bowel. They are most common in adults over 50 years of age and in individuals with a family history of polyps. No known cause exists for why we develop polyps, but if not removed, some polyps can develop into cancer.

Are all polyps the same?

Polyps are not the same. Two common types exist; hyperplastic or adenomatous. Hyperplastic polyps are not at risk for developing into cancer. Adenomatous polyps, however, are a risk factor and thought to be the origin of almost all colon cancers. Many adenomatous polyps will not turn into cancer, but it’s not certain which ones will or will not, so removal is recommended for any polyp found on colonoscopy. Any polyps found and removed during colonoscopy will be sent to the lab for evaluation. Your physician will let you know the type of polyp removed and when to follow up with your next colonoscopy.

Does it hurt after a polyp is removed?

Not at all! Your bowel’s lining is not sensitive to cutting or heat so polyp removal is painless. While uncommon, some individuals may experience small amounts of bleeding from the site of polyp removal, but almost always this can be stopped during the colonoscopy.

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