Colonoscopy - PIH Health - Whittier, CA

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Did you know you can prevent cancer with a screening test available at PIH Health? Colonoscopy is a test used to detect and remove polyps that can potentially lead to colorectal cancer. Although colorectal cancer is the second most common cause of cancer deaths in the country, it has a high cure rate—over 95%—if detected early.

What is a Colonoscopy?

A colonoscopy is a test that allows a special doctor, called a gastroenterologist, to examine the inner lining of your rectum and colon. During a colonoscopy, a thin, flexible tube with a very small video camera is inserted into the large intestine. Your doctor takes pictures to check for abnormal growths (polyps) or other colon lining changes and may remove the polyp or take tissue samples for testing.

One to two days before your colonoscopy, you will need to clean out your colon. This process, which involves drinking clear liquids and a special solution, will be explained to you in advance. When you arrive for your colonoscopy, you will get medicine to help you relax and feel comfortable prior to and during the examination - the vast majority of those undergoing this test sleep through the duration of the entire exam. The medicine will make you sleepy, and you more than likely will not remember much about the procedure itself.

If polyps are detected, they can usually be removed during the colonoscopy. Your doctor will share your test results as soon as they are available—often the day of the procedure.

Neal Shindel MD, a PIH Health gastroenterologist, talks more about colonoscopies and the importance of being screened.

Neal Shindel MD

Should I Be Screened?

Both men and women should be screened beginning at age 50—or earlier if you have risk factors. Your personal risk of colon cancer increases with age and is higher if you have:

  • Had polyps or previous colorectal cancer
  • A history of inflammatory bowel disease, such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease
  • One or more family members who has had colon cancer or advanced colon polyps
  • Inherited gene defects such as Familial Adenomatous Polyposis (FAP) or Hereditary Non-Polyposis Colon Cancer (HNPCC)
  • Certain racial and ethnic background; African Americans and Jews of Eastern European descent (Ashkenazi Jews)

Your risk factors are also higher if you are overweight or physically inactive, smoke or use tobacco, eat too much fat or red meat or drink too much alcohol.

Other reasons to have a colonoscopy include:

  • Blood when you have a bowel movement
  • A change in bowel movements or the feeling that your bowel doesn’t empty completely
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Inflammatory bowel disease, including ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease
  • Persistent diarrhea
  • Iron deficiency anemia
  • Ongoing, unexplained pain in your abdomen or rectum

Tests for Colorectal Cancer

Although colonoscopy is the only testing method with the ability to detect and remove precancerous polyps during the same exam for the entire colon, other screening tests include:

  • Fecal Occult Blood Test (FOBT)
  • Fecal Immunochemical Test (FIT)
  • Flexible sigmoidoscopy
  • Radiologic testing like Barium enema or CT scan

Find out more about colonoscopy and other colon cancer screening tests in our online Health Library.

Fast, Cost-Efficient Scheduling

If you’re due for a screening colonoscopy, our direct access program can save you time and money. Contact us yourself or ask your primary care doctor to call. Our clinical coordinator will ask about your medical history and review details of the procedure. If your health permits, we’ll schedule your appointment directly, eliminating the need for an office visit.

To learn more, contact our direct access colonoscopy program at 562.945.4754.

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