Colon cancer is one of the most common types of cancer (one out of 20 people) and one of the leading causes of cancer death in the United States. However, much of this is due to late detection, as colon cancer is actually a slow-developing disease that is very treatable when diagnosed early. The best way to protect yourself from ever developing colon cancer is to schedule an appointment with a board-certified GI surgeon.
Although colon cancer screenings are relative simple procedures with an excellent record for detecting colon cancer, many patients put off scheduling this life-saving exam. Some people worry that the test will be unpleasant, embarrassing or even painful; while others fear that their insurance plans won’t cover the costs. Our Beverly Hills team of experienced colorectal surgeons believes that educating people about colonoscopies is the best way to put their minds at ease.
Here are some frequently asked questions about colonoscopy and colorectal health. We hope this FAQ helps. If not, contact us at (888) 837-0459 to schedule an appointment with one of our extremely talented doctors.
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Colon Cancer Screening FAQ
At what age should I schedule my first colonoscopy?
For most healthy individuals with normal risk factors for colon cancer, doctors recommend scheduling a first colon cancer screening at age 50. However, some people need earlier exams based on their individual risk factors. Because African Americans are at a higher risk of developing colon cancer, they should schedule their first appointment at age 45. Further, anyone with a family history of colon cancer should schedule his or her first appointment at an age that is ten years prior to the age at which the relative was diagnosed.
Are colonoscopies painful procedures?
A colonoscopy is not typically a painful procedure. Because the procedure is done at an outpatient surgery center, anesthesia and pain medication can be provided to ensure that patients experience no pain. After the procedure, some patients do experience bloating though, once again, this is mild and short-lived.
How does a colon cancer screening prevent colorectal cancer?
A colon cancer screening can prevent colorectal cancer by allowing your doctor to detect and remove pre-cancerous growths. Removing colon polyps early on in their development helps prevent colon cancer later.
How long is a colonoscopy procedure?
In general, preparing for a colon cancer screening takes far more time than undergoing the procedure. The actual test lasts 20 minutes to an hour, though you can expect to be at our facilities for a few hours of pre-op and recovery.
If my GI doctor finds polyps, am I certain to develop colon cancer?
If polyps are detected during your screening, you are NOT certain to develop colon cancer. Polyps are growths in the colon that may lead to colon cancer in the future. On the other hand, removing polyps now can actually prevent you from developing the disease later.
What is the colonoscopy prep cleanse?
What are some common symptoms of colon cancer?
Common symptoms of colon cancer include abdominal pain, anemia, unexplained weight loss, rectal bleeding, changes in bowel habits, and the presence of blood in the stool. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s important to schedule with a los angeles gastrointestinal expert right away. Remember that the goal of a colon cancer screening is to remove polyps and to prevent symptoms from ever occurring in the first place.
Should I wait until I develop symptoms to schedule a colonoscopy?
No! Many of the symptoms of colon cancer do not appear until the disease has progressed. Follow the guidelines for your age, ethnic group, and individual risk factors when deciding when to schedule your colonoscopy.
Are insurance companies required to pay for cancer screenings?
Yes! Many states, including California, have passed legislation requiring insurance coverage for a range of colorectal cancer screening procedures.
Are virtual colonoscopies safe?
Virtual colonoscopy is a popular new alternative to traditional colon cancer screening procedures. This procedure involves taking a bowel cleansing solution and then undergoing a CT scan specific of the colon. However, the exam may not be as safe as people believe. Some experts feel that virtual colonoscopies expose patients to an unnecessary dose of radiation. Others feel that the test is not as effective at identifying pre-cancerous polyps as conventional colonoscopy (small polyps can be missed). Finally, if abnormal growths are detected in a virtual colonoscopy, a colonoscopy must be performed to remove them. For these reasons, we do not recommend the virtual colonoscopy procedure.
Why Choose Us?
When you schedule your colon cancer screening at our Los Angeles colorectal center, you know that you are in the care of board-certified GI surgeons. Unlike large hospitals, we offer personal care in a safe and controlled environment. Our doctors perform thousands of these procedures every year successfully and have extensive experience in endoscopic techniques and colon cancer prevention.
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