A colonoscopy is a very low risk medical procedure, which a doctor recommends when he needs to take a peek inside your large intestine, for the presence of abnormal growths, ulcers or inflammation.
Colon cancers usually start with the formation of non malignant growths known as polyps. The American Cancer Society has stated that colonoscopy has contributed significantly to reducing the occurrence of colon cancer, over the last couple of decades.
Patients who are faced with average risk of colon cancer are asked to have their first colonoscopy scheduled when they turn 50, and based on the findings of that first procedure, to have a follow-up check done between the next five to ten years. Those at higher risk levels are recommended the first colonoscopy well before they turn 50 and regular follow-ups thereafter.
Statistic show that colorectal cancer is frequently diagnosed in people over 50. When due for a colonoscopy, the patient must go with an empty bowel, so that the doctor is able to get a clear image of the intestine.
Prior to the date of the procedure, the patient will have to go through what is known as the colon prep for about 3 to 4 days. This will include being on a liquid or a semi-solid diet and emptying the bowel as often as possible.
The procedure is an outpatient and a quick one, with very low risk of any side effects. The patient will be administered a sedative so that he is completely relaxed during the surgery, and must be taken home by a friend or relative so that he does not have to drive post operation.
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