The truth about colonoscopies

The truth about colonoscopies

It’s sneaking up on adults across the country, colon cancer that is.

“The most common symptom at diagnosis for colon cancer is no symptom at all,” says Dr. Joaquin Estrada, colon and rectal surgeon at Advocate Health Care.

However, patients can rest assured as most colon cancer cases are easily preventable as long as you take the right steps. Dr. Estrada lists colonoscopies as the “gold standard” of colon cancer prevention screenings. Not only are patients screened for colorectal cancers, but patients can also have polyps, growths that lead to colon cancer, removed in real time.

According to Dr. Estrada, a colonoscopy is recommended starting at the age of 45. For patients who have a family history of colorectal cancer, we recommend they receive this screening earlier. If you experience any symptoms such as abdominal pain, nausea, change in bowel habits, blood in the stool or severe weight loss, you should get a screening immediately.

What should you expect?

Patients can expect the entire process to only take about one day, according to Dr. Estrada. The day before the procedure, patients will maintain a clear liquid diet and partake in a bowel-cleansing medication. In the morning, patients will be greeted by the hospital care team and given an IV to provide hydration and anesthesia if requested. While it’s not necessary to be sedated, Dr. Estrada states it keeps the patient comfortable. A flexible camera will be inserted into the rectum up to the colon to locate and remove any existing polyps.

According to Dr. Estrada, many patients will wake up very quickly and easily after the procedure. Some have even asked, “Are we done?”.

“Afterwards, we might ask you to have a light meal. The following day, you can get back to regular activities. You can go to the gym and do all the things you had planned,” Dr. Estrada says.

Besides colonoscopies, here’s what Dr. Estrada recommends you do to keep your colon healthy:

  • Exercise three times a week, preferably doing cardio or an activity that will allow you to sweat.
  • Eat a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, oats and low in processed or red meats.
  • Drink lots of water to maintain hydration.

Learn your risk for colorectal cancer by taking our colorectal health assessment. Learn more information about colorectal cancer screenings in Illinois or Wisconsin

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  1. Where can I get an colonoscopy?

  2. I find it so irritating that the hospitals in Ohio won’t allow Uber, Taxi, etc. to drive me home but only allow friends or family; looks like I won’t be having a colonoscopy. Oh, I asked to not be sedated but they wouldn’t hear of it.

    • It’s only for your personal safety that this is required. Having this procedure, with or without sedation, puts you at a very minor risk for complications immediately afterwards, such as sudden bleeding. An Uber driver or taxi driver can’t be held responsible for any type of complications after the colonoscopy is done, as far as taking you back to the hospital or outpatient surgery center for emergency treatment is concerned.
      Plus, for the first 24 hours after it’s done, it’s also preferable to have someone stay with you – or you stay with them – just in case something happens during that time of an emergency nature.
      It’s the same for any kind of outpatient procedure. Lots of things can be done this way now, that weren’t even considered 10 or 20 years ago – but it still requires that you not be alone for the first part of your recovery. Only for your personal safety, really. The staff and facility have no “skin in the game” in that process once you leave it to return to your own home.

      (I graduated from Vocational/Technical School with a Technical Certificate in Surgical Technology in 1993 [and an Associates Degree as soon as it was available to me in 2009] and worked in hospitals and ambulatory surgery centers for over 15 years, and that’s just how it works.)

  3. Charlene Smith March 22, 2023 at 9:25 am · Reply

    Hello, can a spouse or a trusted family member observe the procedure? I am a little skeptical about being put to sleep and not knowing what is going on during the procedure.

  4. mark chelmowski March 12, 2024 at 12:25 pm · Reply

    Just FYI. I’ve had 2 colonoscopies without anesthesia after hearing that sedation is commonly not used in other countries for this screening procedure. I only had minor and brief discomfort. Since then I’ve told friends who’ve also had similar experiences. An IV is inserted in any case and if it gets too uncomfortable you can always get medication if need be. It’s nice to get on with your day afterwards and have no grogginess.

  5. Christine Alley March 12, 2024 at 5:17 pm · Reply

    I’m due for both colony and upper GI. I like get them scheduled as soon as possible.

  6. Carisa Thompson March 29, 2024 at 3:02 am · Reply

    There must be other alternative procedures to test for colon cancer, what are they? I will call my insurance company to see if it’s covered. Please advise.
    Green Bay, Wisconsin

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Annelise Norris