6 Reasons You May Need a Colonoscopy

need a colonoscopy

Preventative screening tests, such as a colonoscopy, should not be neglected when it comes to routine health visits. A colonoscopy is one of the most effective screening methods for colon cancer. However, the warning signs of needing a colonoscopy are not always visible symptoms. Whether you need a colonoscopy depends on age, family history, and other risk factors. 

In addition to performing colonoscopies, our providers at Wake Endoscopy Center are here to advise patients on specific risk factors and preventative measures to take against colon cancer. Colon, or colorectal cancer, remains very prevalent in the U.S. among male and female adults. Learn more about the benefits of a colonoscopy and potential signs that you may need a colonoscopy. 

Benefits of a Colonoscopy

If you’re unfamiliar with a colonoscopy procedure, it is a visual examination of the large colon. The test is performed by passing a flexible fiberoptic tube, known as a colonoscope, through the colon to the cecum. The colonoscope has a tiny camera on the tip, allowing for a strong visual analysis of the colon. The camera searches for polyps while it passes through the large colon. A polyp is a growth attached to the inside of the colon, but not all are precancerous. If a polyp is detected, a thin snare wire is inserted through the colonoscope to remove it during the procedure. Detecting and eliminating any polyps during the test is beneficial to a potential early diagnosis of colorectal cancer. 

An average colonoscopy takes about 30 minutes, depending on how many polyp removals there are. During a colonoscopy, patients are sedated, allowing for little to no pain or discomfort.  

Signs You May Need a Colonoscopy

  1. If you’re over the age of 45

A colonoscopy screening is recommended for anyone over the age of 45 due to the popularity of colon cancer among adults. Even if patients have no other associated risk factors, they should schedule their colonoscopy screening as a preventative measure. From then on, a colonoscopy is only necessary every ten years unless anything unusual is detected.

  1. Family history or genetic disorders

A family history of colon cancer or other associated diseases can increase your need for a colonoscopy. The American Cancer Society has found that a history of colon cancer with a first-degree relative (parent, sibling, or child) puts an individual at a higher risk, especially if diagnosed before age 50. 

Genetic disorders, such as familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) and Lynch syndrome, are both risk factors for colon cancer. FAP occurs when numerous precancerous polyps develop on the large colon. As you age and the polyps increase in number and size, the likelihood of one becoming cancerous increases. Lynch syndrome is a genetic mutation that increases the risk of developing cancer, most commonly seen with colorectal cancer. 

  1. Rectal bleeding

Rectal bleeding can be an indicator of a more severe condition medical condition, including colon cancer. If you notice blood in your stool or on tissue paper when you wipe, you should seek help from a doctor. 

  1. Change in bowel movements

A frequent symptom of colon cancer is a change in bowel movements, whether diarrhea or constipation. While this symptom can be related to other digestive disorders, performing a preventative colonoscopy screening is best if symptoms worsen. 

  1. History of polyps removed

If many polyps were detected in a previous colonoscopy, you would be required to have more frequent screening exams. Typically a colonoscopy is only needed every ten years. However, depending on the number and size of polyps found, a patient could be due for a colonoscopy every few years. 

  1. If you have IBD

A colonoscopy is one of the best methods to diagnose inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). IBD occurs when there is inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract; symptoms may include abdominal pain, bloody stool, diarrhea, and constipation. Common forms of IBD include Chron’s disease and ulcerative colitis.

Contact a Gastroenterologist

If you’re still wondering whether you fall under the category of someone who may need a colonoscopy, our providers are here to help. Wake Endoscopy works to ensure that all of our patients feel safe and confident before any upcoming procedure. Call us at (919) 783-4888 to discuss any further questions regarding a colonoscopy.