Colonoscopy is a medical procedure where your health care provider uses a specially designed scoping device to look inside your colon and rectum.
The lighted colonoscopy scope has a tiny camera that allows your provider to visually inspect your colon and rectum. It also has tiny tools that your provider can use to remove polyps, which are small growths that, in some cases, may go on to become cancerous.
If you’re wondering whether you need a colonoscopy, Dr. Ilyas Memon, a board-certified gastroenterologist, would like to provide some context about this important procedure.
Here, Dr. Memon and his experienced care team at Texas Digestive Disease Consultants in The Woodlands, Texas, share some guidelines on when they might typically recommend a colonoscopy.
According to the National Institutes of Health, routine colorectal cancer screening should begin at age 45. Several types of colorectal cancer screening are available, including colonoscopy, sigmoidoscopy (a colonoscopy-like test), blood tests, stool tests, and virtual colonoscopy, which is a type of X-ray.
When you turn 45, your care provider talks about the type of colorectal cancer screening that is best for you. The advantage of colonoscopy is that it allows your provider to remove any polyps or suspicious growths that could become cancerous in the future.
Nobody enjoys colonoscopies, which require you to clean out your colon beforehand with diet changes and laxatives. But by removing any precancerous polyps, you greatly decrease your risk of developing colorectal cancer, the second most common cause of cancer death in the United States, according to the American Cancer Society.
You have a personal history of polyps
After a colonoscopy, your provider lets you know when you should have your next one. If your provider finds one or more polyps during your colonoscopy, they send them to a laboratory to be checked for cancer cells or precancerous changes.
To decide when you should have another colonoscopy, your provider considers several factors, such as whether you had polyps during previous colonoscopies.
In some cases, individuals with a family history of colorectal cancer are advised to have a colonoscopy sooner than age 45 or more frequently than if they have no family cancer history.
It’s important to know if anyone in your family, especially parents or siblings, has had colorectal cancer and to share this information with your provider.
Your provider may recommend a colonoscopy if you are experiencing certain symptoms, such as:
Although these symptoms can have many causes, colorectal cancer is one cause that your provider may choose to investigate and rule out. In addition, your provider may suggest a colonoscopy if you have digestive conditions such as:
A colonoscopy allows your provider to inspect the health of your colon and rectum and look for damage caused by digestive diseases.
Don’t put off your colonoscopy. To find out whether you need a colonoscopy, we invite you to schedule an office visit by calling 281-764-9500 or booking an appointment online.