A closer look at a colonoscopy

Jim Dougal, regional manager, Parkview Physicians Group, is passionate about the power of regular colonoscopies. Years ago, he had a small polyp removed, which was later determined precancerous.

“You know, you can’t feel colon cancer,” Jim said. “We’ve found people in their 20s with colon or rectal cancer, partly due to diet or smoking, or other lifestyle factors. There’s also a genetic component.”

These risk factors make prevention incredibly important. Ronda Flesch, clinical nursing director, Endoscopy, explains that colonoscopy is truly the gold standard when it comes to screening for colon cancer.

“We recommend this for everyone over 50, and often sooner if they have a family history of polyps or colon cancer.”

And as for the unpleasant prep involved? “It scares people, but it’s not that bad. Sure, it doesn’t taste good, but it works. Everyone’s had a bout of diarrhea, and this only lasts a few hours.”

The procedure itself takes less than an hour. “You’ll have an IV to get medication to sedate you for the procedure,” Ronda explained. “We use an endoscope, which is a long black tube with a camera on the end, to go into the colon. It’s magnified, so we can see growths or abnormalities. If we find a polyp while we’re doing the procedure, we have tools that go through the scope so we can biopsy or use a snare that we can close and take the polyp off. Any tissue we take is sent to pathology. A pathologist will let us know what type of tissue it is and this dictates when you’ll need to repeat the colonoscopy.”

The process is safe, effective and recommended as part of your overall wellness routine. “Don’t be afraid,” Jim said, “It’s very easy, and something you have to do for your own life, your family and your children.”

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