One of the best ways to protect against and detect colorectal cancer early is to turn to our team of colorectal surgeons here in Berwyn, LaGrange, and Elmhurst, IL. At Suburban Surgical Associates/Suburban Metabolic Institute, we make your digestive health our top priority. Have questions about a colorectal cancer screening (aka a colonoscopy)? You’ve come to the right place.
What are the symptoms of colorectal cancer?
While colorectal cancer may not always cause symptoms until more advanced stages, it’s still important to recognize warning signs right away. Signs and symptoms of colorectal cancer include:
- Changes in your bowels (diarrhea or constipation)
- Blood in stool or rectal bleeding
- Persistent abdominal cramping or gas
- Feeling as if your bowels don’t empty fully
- Narrow stools
- Unexplained weight loss
What are the risk factors?
Colorectal cancer is more likely to occur in men and women over the age of 50 years old, which is why it’s important to see our colorectal surgeons for a colonoscopy around the age of 50. Those at an increased risk for colorectal cancer may want to turn to our team for routine colonoscopies by age 45. Other risk factors include:
- A family history of colorectal cancer or colon polyps
- A personal history of colon polyps
- Inflammatory bowel disease (e.g. Crohn’s disease; ulcerative colitis)
- Being obese
- Smoking or tobacco use
- Leading a sedentary lifestyle
- Heavy alcohol consumption
- Poor diet
While you can’t change genetics you can change your lifestyle, which can go a long way to reducing your risk for colon cancer. Even small changes such as improving your diet, exercising regularly, and quitting smoking can greatly benefit your health for the long term.
When should I start getting routine colonoscopies?
Starting at age 50, men and women should schedule their first colonoscopy. If you are at an increased risk for colon cancer you will want to talk with our team about whether you should get screened earlier. A colonoscopy is the very best tool for detecting and removing colon polyps as well as detecting colon cancer. Even if you aren’t at risk for colorectal cancer you should still get screened.
How long does a colonoscopy take?
A colonoscopy only takes about 30 minutes. It may take longer if we find polyps that need to be removed. During a colonoscopy, you will be under IV sedation and anesthesia so you shouldn’t feel anything and you may not even remember the procedure.
What happens during a colonoscopy?
Once the sedation has taken effect one of our colorectal surgeons will guide a thin tube (known as a colonoscope) with a camera into the rectum. Our doctor will gently guide the colonoscope through the large intestines to look for polyps or other suspicious growths or tissue. If everything looks good you may not need another colonoscopy for 10 years. If polyps are found or you have an abnormal colonoscopy you may need to come in every 5 years for a repeat colonoscopy.
If you have additional questions about colorectal cancer screenings or you need to schedule your next routine colonoscopy with our colorectal surgeons here in Berwyn, LaGrange, or Elmhurst, IL, then call Suburban Surgical Associates/Suburban Metabolic Institute at (708) 484-0621.