Blog Post

Nervous About Your Colonoscopy? 5 Encouraging Facts

A colonoscopy is an essential screening tool that detects colon cancer early, when treatment can help. It’s an invasive procedure about which many people have anxiety, especially when they don’t know what to expect.

However, colonoscopies aren’t as bad as you may think, and they have the power to save your life with early cancer detection. Knowing the facts before a colonoscopy eases your mind and prepares you for the procedure.

At Gateway Gastroenterology, our six specialists provide colonoscopies and other diagnostic procedures for gastric problems. We give you all the information you need before your colonoscopy to help you prepare and ease any anxiety before your procedure.

What is a colonoscopy?

A colonoscopy is a diagnostic exam and preventive procedure to screen for colon and rectal cancer. During a colonoscopy, you’re under anesthesia. You don’t need a tube in your throat to help you breathe, but you won’t be aware of what’s going on during the procedure.

We insert a long scope with a camera at the end into your rectum while you’re under twilight anesthesia. The scope is flexible and can be seen throughout the entire colon.

When we administer the sedative, you will be comfortable during the entire procedure.

If we find anything in your colon, such as abnormal growths or polyps, we can remove them and send them off for cancer testing. We can also take tissue biopsies from the colon if necessary.

You may need a colonoscopy if you're older than 45 and have an average risk of colon cancer. We also recommend the procedure to investigate issues like rectal bleeding, chronic abdominal pain or diarrhea, or other intestinal problems.

Colonoscopies are also suitable for repeat polyp checks and treating colon or rectal problems.

Five positive facts about colonoscopies

Being nervous about a colonoscopy is normal, especially if you’ve never had one. Colonoscopies get a bad name, but they aren’t as bad as you may think.

It’s essential to understand that the procedure is necessary for early cancer detection. The following five facts should help ease your mind about your upcoming colonoscopy:

1. There are minimal risks

One of the most encouraging facts about a colonoscopy is that the complications and risks are extremely low. The procedure is very safe, and side effects are minimal. The most significant risk you may encounter is a reaction to the sedative or bleeding from a biopsy site.

2. The procedure doesn't hurt

During a colonoscopy, you’re under sedation or twilight anesthesia. You don’t need a tube in your throat to help you breathe, but you won’t be aware of what’s going on during the procedure.

3. We can remove anything suspicious

Another fantastic fact about colonoscopies is that we look for abnormal issues within the colon and can treat them in real time. For instance, if we find a polyp or suspicious growth, we can remove it during the colonoscopy and send it to a lab for testing.

4. It can save your life

Colorectal cancer is a treatable form of cancer, but it’s easier for us to manage when found early. A colonoscopy is a life-saving screening tool that finds changes in the rectum or colon early for immediate treatment.

Colon cancer may not have any signs or symptoms in the early stages, which is why the procedure is essential to your long-term well-being, especially if you’re at risk of colon cancer.

5. Preparation is easy

You’ve likely heard horror stories about bowel preparation before a colonoscopy, but it’s not that bad. You’ll need to stick to clear liquids the day before the procedure and take laxatives to ensure you clean your bowel out.

It’s also important not to eat or drink after midnight, which allows our team to see the scope during the procedure. Additionally, you can eat whatever you'd like once you recover on the day of the procedure.

Call one of our offices in Chesterfield, St. Louis, and Ballwin, Missouri, at 314-529-4900 to schedule a colonoscopy, or request a consultation on our website.