Peace Of Mind
Many health conscious adults are overlooking the opportunity to prevent a very common and deadly form of cancer. Sadly, this has allowed colon cancer to become the leading cause of cancer deaths in non-smokers. Of the 150,000 diagnosed with colon cancer each year, nearly half will ultimately die due to late detection.
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For the colonoscopy, you will lie on your left side on the examining table. You will be moderately sedated with propofol, which will make the procedure pain-free so you will be completely comfortable. Most people do not even remember the event due to the slight amnesia effect of the anesthetic. The doctor, anesthetist and a nurse will monitor your vital signs, look for any signs of discomfort, and make adjustments as needed.
The doctor will then insert a long, flexible, lighted tube into your rectum and slowly guide it into your colon. The tube is called a colonoscope (koh-LON-oh-skope). The scope transmits an image of the insides of the colon onto a video screen so the doctor can carefully examine the lining of the colon. The scope bends so the doctor can move it around the curves of your colon.
You may be asked to change positions at times so the doctor can more easily move the scope to better see the different parts of your colon. The scope blows air into your colon and inflates it–which helps give the doctor a better view. Most patients do not remember the procedure afterwards.
The doctor can remove most abnormal growths in your colon–like a polyp, which is a growth in the lining of the bowel. Polyps are removed using tiny tools passed through the scope. Most polyps are not cancerous, but they could turn into cancer. Just looking at a polyp is not enough to tell if it is cancerous. Polyps are sent to a pathology lab for testing. By identifying and removing polyps, a colonoscopy likely prevents most cancers from forming.
The tissue removal does not cause pain. In many cases, a colonoscopy allows for accurate diagnosis and treatment of abnormalities without the need for a major operation.
When the doctor has finished, the colonoscope is slowly withdrawn while the lining of your bowel is carefully examined. A colonoscopy usually takes 30 to 60 minutes. You will need to remain here for one to two hours so the anesthetic can wear off. Rarely, some people experience abdominal pain, fever, bloody bowel movements, dizziness, or weakness afterward. If you have any of these side effects, contact your physician immediately.
Read your discharge instructions carefully. Medications such as blood-thinners may need to be stopped for a short time after having your colonoscopy, especially if a biopsy was performed or polyps were removed. Full recovery by the next day is normal and you may return to your regular activities.
Only 1 of 3 at-risk Americans get a colonoscopy — stark contrast to the four out of five women who get mammograms. However, test for test a colonoscopy is 50x as likely to save a life. We urge you to share the importance of having a colonoscopy screening with your loved ones and of course have one for yourself as well. It may just save your life.
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