Don’t Skip Your Colonoscopy

The dreaded colonoscopy.

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Hey everyone, Dr. Dale here.

Out of all the procedures I perform, this is the one that patients tend to feel the most apprehensive about, hands down.  And while it’s true that no one really looks forward to having a colonoscopy, there’s one very simple reason that doctors continue to recommend the procedure—it can save your life.

According to the American Cancer Society, there were an estimated 50,630 colorectal cancer-related deaths in 2018.  A staggering 60% of these deaths could have been avoided with appropriate preventative care, namely colonoscopy (research shows that colonoscopy is the most effective preventative tool we have for this disease).

Traditionally, doctors recommended that most patients begin colorectal cancer screening at age 50, and continue to have regular colonoscopies every 10 years.  In May 2018, the American Cancer Society updated their guidelines, and now recommend that most patients begin colorectal cancer screening when they turn 45.  Screening can include colonoscopy, as well as other lab and imaging tests, such as the Fecal Occult Blood Test (FOBT).

Patients who have an increased risk of colorectal cancer may need to start screening sooner.  That includes patients with inflammatory bowel disease, and those with a family history of colorectal cancer or certain types of polyps.  Because every patient is different, I can recommend the screening schedule that’s best for your particular health needs.

It’s normal to feel anxious about having a colonoscopy, particularly if it’s your first one.  But keep in mind that there are a lot of common misconceptions about this procedure, which could be feeding your anxiety.  In fact, after the procedure is over, patients often tell us “that wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it’d be.”

The night before your colonoscopy, you’ll be asked to prepare for the procedure by drinking a laxative solution.  This will ensure that your bowels are completely cleaned out, so that I can see the lining of your colon and detect any polyps or other abnormalities.

During the procedure, a thin, flexible tube is inserted into the rectum, and slowly guided into the colon. There’s a small camera on the end of the tube, which transmits images onto a video monitor.  If polyps are found, they can be removed during the colonoscopy, and may be sent for biopsy.  You’ll also receive a sedative medication to ensure that you feel comfortable and relaxed.  Many patients are actually asleep during the colonoscopy itself.  And that’s it.  When you awake from the procedure, I’ll discuss your results with you.

So don’t put off your colonoscopy due to fear or anxiety.  I have over 14 years of experience treating patients with colorectal conditions. I use the most current, state-of-the-art colonoscopy equipment, and can meet with you to discuss any questions or concerns you might have about this procedure.

Contact my office at 310-360-6807 or click here to schedule a consultation with me.

- Dr. Dale