WCH Diagnostics: Screening Colonoscopy
Colonoscopy Procedures at Wooster Community Hospital
A colonoscopy is a noninvasive screening and diagnostic procedure that examines the colon and rectum in the lower GI tract.
So what’s the difference between a screening colonoscopy and a diagnostic colonoscopy?
A screening colonoscopy is performed proactively to detect changes or abnormalities in the large intestine (colon) and rectum, such as colorectal polyps or precancerous growths.
A diagnostic colonoscopy is performed to evaluate gastrointestinal symptoms, such as rectal and intestinal bleeding, abdominal pain, changes in bowel habits, and unexplained weight loss. The procedure may detect conditions such as polyps, colorectal cancer, or ulcers.
If a polyp is found during a colonoscopy, it will be removed right away, during the same procedure. This will help to ensure it doesn't develop into cancer.
Colonoscopy procedures are performed by general surgeons on staff at Wooster Community Hospital Health System.
When and how often should you have a screening colonoscopy? According to the American Cancer Society, women and men with an average risk of developing colon or rectal cancer should follow these guidelines:
- You should start regular screening at age 45 and have a colonoscopy every 10 years.
- If you are in good health and have a life expectancy of more than 10 years, you should continue regular colorectal cancer screening through the age of 75.
- If you are 76 to 85 years old, the decision to be screened should be based on your preferences, life expectancy, overall health, and prior screening history.
- Those over 85 no longer need to be screened.
If you are at increased risk for colorectal cancer, you may need to begin screening earlier and be screened more often. Risk factors include:
- Family history of colorectal cancer
- Personal history of colorectal cancer or certain types of polyps
- Personal history of inflammatory bowel disease (ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease)
- Prior history of radiation to the abdomen or pelvic area to treat a prior cancer
If you have any of these risk factors, it’s critically important to visit a gastroenterologist on a regular basis. Your doctor will let you know when and how often you should have a screening colonoscopy.
However, no referral is necessary to receive a colonoscopy screening – all you need to do is call us to schedule one.