When to Schedule a Colonoscopy

As you age, your chances of developing cancerous or precancerous conditions in your colon (lower intestine) increase. A colonoscopy can provide early detection and greatly improve your chances of survival.

At Texas Surgical Care in Kingwood, Texas, Dr. Ronald Ambe can advise you if you should schedule a colonoscopy. During the procedure he checks for signs of polyps or colorectal cancer.

Reasons to get a colonoscopy

Nearly 150,000 people are diagnosed with colorectal cancer (CRC) every year, and more than 50,000 die from the disease. CRC is the third-most common cause of cancer-related death but has a 90% survival rate if it’s caught early enough.

A colonoscopy both screens for CRC and can find and identify colon polyps before they become cancerous, so they can be removed as a preventive measure. It’s estimated that 90% of tumors or polyps can be found with regular colonoscopy screenings.

Signs you may need a colonoscopy

If you have one of the following intestinal symptoms and a cause hasn’t been found, your doctor may recommend a colonoscopy to determine the source of your:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Chronic constipation
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Chronic diarrhea
  • Sudden bowel habit changes
  • Unexplained weight loss

How often should a colonoscopy be scheduled?

Most people should start regular CRC screening at age 45. Your doctor may allow you to simply do a stool-based test if you don’t have extra risk factors for CRC or other types of cancer. If you are in good health, and have a life expectancy of more than 10 years, you’ll get a repeat test every three years for the stool-based test and every 10 years for a colonoscopy, through age 75. After that it will be at your doctors’ discretion, and past 85 you probably won’t have a colonoscopy again.

You may need a colonoscopy at a younger age or more frequently than every few years if you have:

  • A previous history of polyps or CRC
  • A family history of CRC
  • A personal history of Crohn’s, IBS, or another inflammatory bowel disease
  • A hereditary risk for colon-related cancers
  • Had radiation to the abdomen or pelvis as part of a previous cancer treatment

The procedure

Dr. Ambe places you under moderate sedation, and he inserts a tiny camera (endoscope) into to examine the inside of your colon for polyps or other signs of cancer. He’ll let you know what you need to do before and after the procedure so it goes smoothly.

Worried about intestinal symptoms? Get in touch with Dr. Ambe to see if you need to schedule a colonoscopy. You can call our office at 832-280-8691, or request an appointment online.

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