Are YOU at RISK?
olon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related death in the United States. 148,000 new cases are diagnosed each year. Approximately 55,000 deaths occur as a result of colon cancer. *
A colonoscopy is a routine screening exam for colorectal cancer. It involves an examination of the colon, also called the large intestine or bowel. The colon is the lower 6 feet of the digestive tract. The colon turns intestinal waste into solid stool and ultimately eliminates it from the body. A colonoscopy is the best way for a physician to view the entire colon and identify any problems. Unfortunately, many people put off a colonoscopy. When it comes to this life-saving exam, there is no place for modesty.
Most people are unfamiliar with a colonoscopy. The best place to start is with your doctor. The American Cancer Society's web site also has an abundance of information. As with any medical procedure, an informed patient is a wise patient. This article will attempt to address the questions that we most often receive from those who undergo a colonoscopy.
What Should I Expect During my Colonoscopy?
A colonoscopy involves the use of a colonoscope; a long, thin, flexible instrument that houses a small color camera in its tip. The colonoscope is connected to a video display monitor. The colonoscope in inserted into the rectum and is moved up and through the entire colon. As the colonoscope navigates the colon, the physician inspects the colon by watching a color monitor. If any areas of concern are noticed during the colonoscopy, a biopsy (removing a small amount of tissue) may be performed. The biopsy is accomplished through the colonoscope by inserting a small instrument that captures the tissue in question.
Will It Hurt?
Typically, a colonoscopy procedure will take less than an hour. Mild sedation is provided to relieve anxiety and discomfort. Before the colonoscopy begins, an IV will be started by inserting a small needle into your hand or arm. The medicines will make you feel relaxed and sleepy. Most patients not only experience no pain during the procedure, but rarely do they even remember the colonoscopy. Because mild sedation is administered, you will be required to have someone drive you home after the procedure.
What is Colonoscopy Prep?
Most patients agree that the colonoscopy prep is the worst part of the procedure. It is highly suggested that the prep be done at home and that the patient remains home during its usage. The objective of the prep is to quickly remove all solid waste in the digestive tract. The prep typically causes diarrhea which leaves the colon clean. The prep is prescribed by your doctor and must be completed correctly before the colon can be examined. It is also suggested that patients alter their normal dietary habits for a few days before the colonoscopy. The key to a successful colonoscopy is to follow the bowel prep instructions as prescribed by your doctor.
How will my Privacy be handled?
A colonoscopy is performed in a private procedure room. No other patients are around. Doctors and nurses who perform the procedure are professionals and very careful to respect the patient's privacy.
What if an Abnormality is found?
A colonoscopy is typically performed when a patient complains of rectal bleeding or a significant change in bowel habits. Tumor-like growths, or polyps, are typically revealed and can be removed through the colonoscope. Most cancers arise from polyps. Removing them reduces the risks for developing cancer. If polyps are found during the procedure, chances are your doctor will remove them during the colonoscopy. Tissue samples (biopsies) can also be taken to detect the presence of cancerous cells.
Diagnosis and Cancer Incidence Rates
Symptoms from colon cancer do not present early. A recent press release by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) states that 50% of all cases of invasive colorectal cancer (among people older than 50) are diagnosed at a late stage; when treatment is more difficult and less likely to be successful. The incidence of late stage diagnosis increases among African-Americans. This report causes concern because so many preventable cancers are not being diagnosed when treatment is most effective. Additionally, Louisiana has one of the 3 highest incidence rates of late diagnosis. Our 86.5 per 100,000 colorectal cancer incidence rates exceed the national average of 51 per 100,000 population.* Routine, screening colonoscopy can protect patients against the ravages of cancer.
Physicians Medical Center
Since 2001, Physicians Medical Center, located at 218 Corporate Drive in Houma, has performed approximately 5,000 colonoscopy exams. Our patient outcomes are unparalleled. Our patients tell us that they like what we're doing. The PMC admission process starts when your physician's office schedules your procedure. During your visit with your physician, a pre-admission appointment will be made for you at PMC. Additionally, a date and time for your colonoscopy will be reserved.
The preadmission clinic at PMC exists to serve our patients who have been scheduled for surgery or outpatient procedures. The clinic is staffed by Registered Nurses. Appointments are scheduled in person with our patients. The purpose of the clinic is to;
- provide patients with information relating to their procedure/associated risks and thus decrease patients anxiety levels prior to admission
- perform a comprehensive nursing assessment to assess the patients general health, suitability and fitness for the procedure
- improve patient outcomes.
- give the patients the opportunity in a private environment to ask any questions or express any concerns
Prior to your pre-admission appointment, your physician will provide us with preliminary information about you and your needs. During your pre-admission appointment, you will be asked to complete several forms. If necessary, a brief visit with our financial representative will be scheduled to discuss insurance and/or payment issues. Also, if ordered by your physician, blood work and x-rays may be taken.
At PMC, we want your endoscopy experience to be a positive one. This is accomplished through adequate information, preparation, and professional care. For more information call PMC at 985-853-1390.