All too often, serious medical issues take people by surprise, leaving little to no time to respond. So when you have the ability to screen for a disease, you shouldn’t pass up the chance.
Each year in the United States, more than 150,000 men and women are diagnosed with colorectal cancer. And it’s the second leading cause of cancer death — more than 52,000 deaths are predicted for 2023.
While deaths due to colorectal cancer have gone down over the past few decades, the goal is to bring them even lower. To that end, the team of skilled surgeons here at Rockwall Surgical Specialists performs the important and potentially lifesaving colonoscopy — the most effective screening tool for colorectal cancer.
Here’s a look at what a colonoscopy accomplishes, when you should start screening, and how often you should be tested.
Why a colonoscopy is so effective
A colonoscopy is an effective screening and prevention procedure for two very important reasons.
First, with a colonoscopy, we can use a scope to take a close look at the inside walls of your colon and rectum for any signs of a potential problem, such as a polyp, ulcer, or suspicious looking tissue.
This ability to spot potential cancer in its earliest stages allows us to take prompt action, which brings us to the second reason why a colonoscopy is invaluable: We remove the suspicious tissue. For example, if we find a polyp during your colonoscopy, we remove the growth for further testing.
With this two-in-one procedure, we’re able to provide you with invaluable protection against colorectal cancer.
When you should undergo a colonoscopy
For both men and women, we recommend that you undergo your first colonoscopy when you turn 45. There are times, however, when we may want to screen earlier, especially if you have any of the following risk factors:
- Family history of colorectal cancer
- History of Crohn’s disease or inflammatory bowel disease
- A history of radiation in the abdominal or pelvic area
If you have one of these risks, you may benefit from earlier, and more regular, screening.
How often you should screen
When it comes to figuring out your ideal colonoscopy schedule, it depends upon what we find during your first colonoscopy.
If we find nothing of concern during your colonoscopy, we don’t need to see you for 10 years, at which point you should undergo another screening. If that screening is, again, clear, you should undergo a colonoscopy every 10 years until age 85.
If we do find, and remove, suspicious tissues during your colonoscopy and tests come back negative for abnormal cells, you should follow the 10-year colonoscopy schedule.
If the biopsy reveals the presence of abnormal cells, we’ll work with your doctor to determine your next steps. In many cases, it simply means returning to us sooner — about 3-5 years — for another colonoscopy.
If you have more questions about the guidelines for colonoscopy screening, or you’re due to schedule your procedure, please contact us at one of our locations in Rowlett, Rockwall, Greenville, Terrell, and Forney, Texas.