(5/12/11) – The Importance of Colonoscopy in Preventing Colon Cancer
Mamdouh Mijalli, M.D., F.A.C.S., McLeod General Surgery Dillon
Board Certified in General Surgery
A colonoscopy is an important screening tool for colon cancer. Most people should get their first colonoscopy at age 50. However, if you are having symptoms such as abdominal pain, changes in bowel habits or blood in the stool, talk to your physician and they may recommend a screening.
This exam allows a doctor to closely look at the inside of the entire colon. The doctor is looking for polyps or signs of cancer. Polyps are small growths that over time can become cancer. The doctor uses a colonoscope, a thin, flexible, hollow tube that has a tiny video camera to sends pictures from the colon to a screen.
About the Procedure
Many people consider the bowel preparation the most unpleasant part of the test. The doctor will give you instructions – make sure to read these carefully a few days ahead of time. If you are not sure about any of the instructions, call the doctor’s office.
You follow a special diet the day before the exam and take very strong laxatives before the procedure. The key to getting good pictures is to have the colon cleaned out. The exam itself takes about 30 minutes, but because patients are usually given medicine to help them relax and sleep during the procedure, people usually will miss a day of work. The exam is not painful, and the patient’s privacy is a top concern.
After the Procedure
After the procedure, you may feel a bit woozy from the anesthesia. You will be watched and given fluids. You may have some gas, which could cause mild discomfort. Because of the medicines given for the test, most facilities require that you bring someone to take you home.
If a small polyp is found, your doctor will probably remove it. Over time some polyps could become cancer. If your doctor sees a large polyp, a tumor, or anything else abnormal, a biopsy will be done. For the biopsy, a small piece of tissue is taken out through the colonoscope. It is sent to a lab to be checked under a microscope for cancer or pre-cancer cells.
If the results of your colonoscopy are abnormal, you should continue with yearly screenings. If results are normal, then you should have a colonoscopy every 5-10 years, depending on your personal risk factors.
According to the American Cancer Society, regular colorectal cancer testing is one of the most powerful weapons for preventing colorectal cancer. Removing polyps can prevent colorectal cancer from forming, and cancers found in an early stage are more easily treated. Nine out of 10 patients, when diagnosed early, live another five years, and many will live a normal life span.
McLeod General Surgery Dillon performs colonoscopies at McLeod Medical Center Dillon. For more information, or to schedule an appointment, call (843) 841 – 3846.
Mamdouh Mijalli, M.D., F.A.C.S, received his medical degree from Cairo University in Egypt, graduating Excellent with Honors. He also received his Master Degree in Surgery from Cairo University. Dr. Mijalli completed a General Surgery Residency at Cairo University Hospital, and a Cardiothoracic Surgery Fellowship at Yale-New Haven Hospital, in New Haven, Connecticut. Dr. Mijalli also completed a General Surgery Residency at Yale-New Haven Hospital, and served as Chief General Surgery Resident at Maine Medical Center, in Portland, Maine. Dr. Mijalli is Board Certified in General Surgery and cares for patients at McLeod General Surgery Dillon. For more information, or to schedule an appointment, please call (843) 841-3846.