Over 50? Schedule Your Colonoscopy Soon.

Photo by Mpumelelo Macu on Unsplash


  • The CDC estimates that 60% of colon cancer deaths could be prevented if everyone over 50 got a colonoscopy.
  • Roughly 90% of new colon cancer cases occur after age 50.
  • Screenings are brief, painless and the most effective of all cancer prevention methods.
  • But 40% of Americans for whom colonoscopies are recommended do not get one.

Discussing colorectal cancer isn’t a common topic for most people, and it’s understandable. It involves talking about an intimate part of the human anatomy, and – even scarier – cancer. But if you are over 50, it is definitely a conversation you should have with your doctor.

Colorectal cancer is the fourth most common form of cancer in America; 50,000 Americans die annually from the disease. The American Cancer Society and Center for Disease Control both recommend colonoscopies once a decade after 50.

A colonoscopy is a procedure which allows a physician to look at the interior lining of the rectum and large intestine. Using a thin, tube-like lighted instrument equipped with a lens, a doctor looks for abnormal areas, polyps, and possible cancer. This procedure may also help find other colon diseases, such as Crohn’s Disease or Colitis. It can also help identify ulcers, areas of inflammation or bleeding and causes of diarrhea.

If you are 50 and haven’t set up a colonoscopy, discuss this very important procedure at your annual physical. If you are over 50 and haven’t had this screening, or if you know someone for which this is true, contact us to set one up today. Below, some highlights are listed detailing what to expect with your first procedure.

Preparing for Your Colonoscopy
Days before the procedure, your physician or nurse will give you preparation instructions. The purpose of this preparation is to clean out the bowels and will result in multiple bowel movements and cause liquid stools.

If you are unable to complete the prep as directed: please call your physician. It is likely that your test be rescheduled.

You will also receive dietary instructions prior to the procedure. In some cases, a liquid diet is requested for a short duration, 1-2 days before your scheduled procedure. For your safety, it is imperative not to consume any food or liquids within the 4 hours prior to the procedure.

Always discuss your health history if it has changed in any way since you last saw your GI physician.

Upon Admission

Plan for half a day at the doctor’s office. Whoever accompanies you to ADC will be asked to remain during your procedure and to drive you home. This person would also keep your valuables, such as a wedding ring or a cell phone.

Before the procedure you will be asked by your physician about pain of any kind. You may also ask any questions that you have at any time. You and the team will discuss your current medications and your personal allergies to any medications. Medications are given by physicians orders throughout the procedure (most commonly used are Demerol; Versed; Fentanyl; and Phenergan). Please notify your nurse if you are allergic to any of these medications. After reviewing your vitals, an IV will begin.

During the Procedure

  • The procedure usually takes between 30 and 45 minutes
  • Your blood pressure, heart rate and oxygen saturation are monitored continuously. You will also be placed on a small amount of oxygen through a nasal cannula.
  • Your physician may take biopsies, remove polyps or perform treatment during the procedure. Specimens that may be removed will be sent out later for testing. Your physician’s office will call you with the results once that testing is completed.

Following the Colonoscopy

Following the procedure, it is typical to remain in recovery for 2-3 hours. After some time, you will receive another checkup, again checking your temperature and other vital signs. At this time, your physician will also take you through what they saw during the procedure. If appropriate, you will be able to begin drinking fluids again.

Discharge instructions are always reviewed with you and the person accompanying you. You may be sleepy at the time of discharge and are encouraged to go home and rest for the day. Any special instructions from your physician are also written on the discharge sheet. If follow-up is needed, your physician will advise you at that time.


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