Colonoscopy is one of the best ways to detect and prevent colon cancer. Here’s how you can prepare for the procedure and what to expect during and after it.
If you experience changes in your bowel movements, suffer from inflammatory bowel disease, have a personal or family history of polyps or colon cancer, your doctor may recommend a form of colon examination called a colonoscopy to screen for colon cancer. It uses a long flexible tube inserted via the anus to thoroughly examine the lining of the colon and rectum. Colon cancer is a silent killer, with few or no obvious symptoms in its early stage. However, if detected early, colon cancer is preventable and highly treatable.
Preparing for colonoscopy
Before the procedure, you will need to take some special measures to clear the colon of stool so that your doctor has a clear view of the inside of the colon. Laxatives will be given the day before to purge the contents of your bowels. Drink as much clear fluid as possible during this process. To aid in the cleansing, you will also be asked to avoid fibre-rich food such as vegetables and fruits two days before the examination. If you are on aspirin or other blood-thinning medications, you might be advised to stop those medications temporarily.
What to expect during the procedure
On the day, arrive about 30 to 60 minutes before the appointment time so that you can use the bathroom and get ready. In most cases, the procedure is done under sedation so there will be no discomfort. During the procedure, the scope is inserted into the anus. This gives the doctor the advantage to pick up anomalies. The other advantage is that the tube allows for the insertion of tools and, thus, the immediate removal of any polyps or growths. These samples are sent to the lab for assessment.
You may feel drowsy from the sedation so it is important not to drive yourself home after the procedure. You can also expect to feel bloated and experience flatulence because of residual air left in the colon. Most people also experience fewer bowel movements over the next few days due to the prior cleaning of the colon.