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Do I need colon cancer screening?

Colon cancer screening is best performed by colonoscopy and should begin at age 50 and be performed every ten years.

If a person has a family history of a parent or sibling having colon cancer or a polyp before age 65, then colonoscopy should begin at age 40 or ten years younger than the age of the family member when they were diagnosed with colon cancer or polyps. Subsequent colonoscopies should be at five year intervals.

If a person has a personal history of polyps on a previous colonoscopy, typically colonoscopy should subsequently be performed at three to five year intervals.

What should I do if I take insulin?

Call your primary doctor at least five days before the procedure and ask for instructions.

What should I do if I take Coumadin (warfarin)?

Call your primary doctor or cardiologist and ask if you can stop the Coumadin four days before your procedure. If your doctor tells you that you cannot stop the Coumadin then please call us immediately to make us aware of this. We will then discuss with you the various options available for doing a procedure while on Coumadin.

What should I do if I take Plavix (clopidogrel) or aspirin?

Plavix and aspirin do not need to be stopped prior to undergoing an endoscopic procedure.

What should I do if I take iron?

If you are having a colonoscopy, stop the iron four days before the procedure. Iron can interfere with the colonoscopy preparation resulting in a poorly cleaned colon. You do not need to stop iron if you are undergoing an upper endoscopy.

What should I do if I take herbal medicines?

It is best to stop any herbal remedies five days before the procedure as many of them can thin the blood and increase the risk of bleeding during the procedure.

Will I require antibiotics for my procedure?

According to recent guidelines from the American Heart Association and the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy, antibiotics are not required for routine endoscopic procedures.

What should I do if I have an automatic implantable defibrillator?

Please call at least five days before the procedure for instructions.

Should I take my usual medications on the morning of the procedure?

With the exception of insulin and Coumadin as noted above, go ahead and take all of your usual medications.

What are the potential complications of upper endoscopy or colonoscopy?

Enclosed with the information you will receive about your procedure, there is a review of the potential complications of your specific procedure. Overall, upper endoscopy and colonoscopy are very safe. There is a very small chance of allergic reaction to the medications used for sedation, over sedation that could compromise your breathing, bleeding, or perforation.

Bleeding can occur after a biopsy or removal of a polyp. It is usually minimal though rarely there can be major bleeding that could require hospitalization, blood transfusion, or surgery.

Perforation (causing a tear in the wall of the esophagus, stomach, or intestine) is a very rare complication, though when occurs usually requires surgery.

If you have concerns about the possible complications of your procedure, please discuss this with your doctor.