The Dangers of Putting Off That Colonoscopy

Although no one looks forward to a colonoscopy, this routine screening test provides life-saving benefits for thousands of Americans. In fact, putting it off can be dangerous to your health. 

Colorectal cancer is currently the second leading cause of cancer deaths in America. But even though a colonoscopy reduces your risk of developing and dying from colorectal cancer, over one-third of Americans eligible for it don’t opt for the screening test. 

At Houston Gastrointestinal & Liver Clinic, PA, double board-certified Sreelatha Reddy, MD, and our compassionate care team offer the best in colonoscopy technology to ensure more men and in Sugarland, Texas, get this life-saving test on schedule. In this article, our colorectal cancer experts explain why you shouldn’t put off getting a colonoscopy and how it can save your life. 

Read on to learn what you need to know!  

Colonoscopy 101

Located in your abdomen, your colon, or large intestine, isn’t easy to observe from the outside. A colonoscopy allows Dr. Reddy to look for any changes or abnormal growths that occur in your colon, so they can be treated early. Without a colonoscopy, you may not have symptoms of any disease until it progresses and is more difficult to treat. 

Before your colonoscopy screening, you can expect to spend the day before your test on a liquid diet of light-colored or clear beverages. In the evening, you’ll use an enema kit and take a laxative prescribed by Dr. Reddy. You’ll take another laxative the morning of your procedure. This preparation clears out your colon, making it easier for your provider to check for issues.

During the procedure, which takes 30-60 minutes, Dr. Reddy gives you medication to keep you comfortable before inserting the colonoscope (a long, thin tube with a light at the end) into your rectum and through your colon. Air pumped into your large intestine provides more room for observation.  

The colonoscope allows Dr. Reddy to look for abnormal tissue growth and precancerous polyps, which can be removed during the colonoscopy and sent to a laboratory for testing. You can return to your normal activities within a day after your colonoscopy.

Dangers of putting off your colonoscopy

A colonoscopy is one of the most effective tools available for screening for colorectal cancer. This simple screening not only prevents colon cancer from developing, but it reduces your risk of dying from the disease should you be diagnosed. 

Here’s a look at some of the dangers your face when you skip your routine colonoscopy screening:

Precancerous detection

Since colorectal cancer often causes no symptoms until later stages of the disease, colonoscopies play a vital role in detecting precancerous growths. One of the most common growths detected and removed are small, benign growths called polyps.   

Polyps form when abnormal cells accumulate in your colon's lining. If these polyps go untreated, they can turn into cancer. Colonoscopies allow Dr. Reddy to examine your colon’s lining, offering an opportunity to catch and remove any polyps before they become cancerous. 

Detection of other intestinal trouble

Colonoscopies also help Dr. Reddy detect and identify other issues occurring in your large intestine. Using the scope and images relayed back by the camera, Dr. Reddy looks for:

A colonoscopy can also detect bowel obstructions and inflammatory bowel disease. Any abnormalities detected undergo a thorough diagnostic process to determine the right course of treatment needed.  

When to schedule a colonoscopy

The American Cancer Society recommends people with average risk (no history or family history of colon cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, or certain genetic conditions) for colorectal cancer begin regular screenings starting at age 45.  

Dr. Reddy may recommend earlier screenings if you have an increased or high risk of colorectal cancer. This includes:

After your initial colonoscopy, Dr. Reddy recommends regular colorectal cancer screenings based on the findings, your risk factors, and your overall health status.  

To schedule your colonoscopy, contact the experts at Houston Gastrointestinal & Liver Clinic, PA. Call the Sugarland, Texas, office nearest you to learn more, or request an appointment online now.

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