Unlike some other kinds of cancer, colon cancer doesn't usually cause any symptoms in the early stages of the disease. Fortunately, a colonoscopy, a screening procedure offered by your Huntsville, AL, gastroenterologist, Dr. E. Anthony Ugheoke of Associates in Gastroenterology, offers an effective way to spot signs of cancer and other conditions.
What is a colonoscopy?
A colonoscopy is a screening test that makes it possible for your Huntsville, AL, gastroenterologist to see the lining of your colon and rectum. Your doctor inserts a flexible lighted scope that contains a tiny camera into your anus during the procedure.
Images appear on a digital screen as he slowly passes the scope through the rectum and colon. While watching the screen, he looks for polyps (small growths on the lining of the colon) and other possible signs of cancer or digestive problems. If he sees any polyps, he uses tiny surgical instruments to remove them. The polyps are sent to a medical laboratory for testing.
Who needs a colonoscopy?
Scheduling a colonoscopy is a good idea if:
- You're 45: As you get older, you're more likely to develop polyps. Polyps can be benign (non-cancerous), pre-cancerous or cancerous. Unfortunately, you can't feel polyps and won't know if you have them. Removing the growths is a simple way to reduce your colon cancer risk. If you do have a cancerous polyp, you'll benefit from receiving an early diagnosis.
- It's Been a While Since Your Last Colonoscopy: If you're colonoscopy is normal, you'll need to schedule another one in 10 years. Since things can change over time, follow-up colonoscopies are particularly important. You may need another colonoscopy sooner than 10 years if you've had colon cancer or polyps in the past.
- You Need a Few Answers: Your gastroenterologist also uses colonoscopies to diagnose conditions that affect the digestive tract. He may recommend the procedure if you have chronic diarrhea or constipation, are anemic, experience rectal bleeding, lost weight without trying, or noticed a change in your bowel movements. The same instruments your gastroenterologist uses to remove polyps can also be used to take tissue samples or stop bleeding.
Are you ready to schedule your colonoscopy? Call your gastroenterologist in Huntsville, AL, Dr. Ugheoke of Associates in Gastroenterology, at (256) 883-0098 to schedule your appointment.