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When You Should Schedule a Colon Cancer Screening

Colonoscopy, a type of colon cancer screening offered by your Allentown, New Tripoli and Lehighton, PA, gastroenterologists, Dr. Ahmed Hasan, Dr. Andrew Schwartz and Dr. Mahreema Jawairia of Lehigh Gastroenterology Associates, can detect colon cancer long before it causes any symptoms. Do you know when it's a good idea to schedule a colonoscopy?

When is a colonoscopy needed?

Colonoscopies help gastroenterologists diagnose colon cancer, the second leading cause of cancer deaths in men and women, according to the Colorectal Cancer Alliance. Unfortunately, you may feel perfectly fine even though you have colon cancer. In most cases, the cancer doesn't cause any symptoms until it's fairly advanced.

During your visit to the Allentown, New Tripoli or Lehighton, PA, gastroenterology office, your doctor may recommend a colonoscopy if:

  • You are 45: Several years ago, the American Cancer Society lowered the recommended age for first colonoscopies from 50 to 45 because so many cases of colon cancer were being detected during colon cancer screenings.
  • It's been years since you last had a colonoscopy: Colon cancer screenings are recommended every 10 years after your original colonoscopy.
  • You've had colon cancer: More frequent colonoscopies may be needed if you've had colon cancer or polyps in the past.
  • You've noticed changes in your bowel habits: A colonoscopy can help your doctor determine why you have chronic diarrhea or constipation.
  • You have other symptoms: Colonoscopies are also used to find the source of anemia, rectal bleeding or unexplained weight loss.
  • People who have had colon polyps before need a repeat colonoscopy every 3 to 5 years.
  • People with Ulcerative colitis or Crohn"s disease need regular colonoscopies.
  • Anyone with a Family member with colon polyps or Colon cancer.

How do colonoscopies work?

During a colonoscopy, your doctor uses a thin, flexible tube called a colonoscope to get an up-close view of the lining of your colon. The colonoscope contains a light and a miniature camera. During the screening, the camera sends real-time images of your colon to a digital monitor. Your gastroenterologist watches the monitor carefully as he or she slows passes the colonoscope into your anus and colon.

The test helps your doctor spot polyps, small growths attached to the lining of the colon. Although polyps are often harmless, some can be pre-cancerous or cancerous. Luckily, these polyps can be removed with tiny surgical tools during your colonoscopy. Polyps and other tissue samples are sent to a laboratory for testing.

You'll be sedated during your colonoscopy and won't remember anything about the screening. After you wake up, your gastroenterologist will discuss the preliminary results with you. Lab results will be discussed with you when available.

Do you need a colonoscopy? The first step in the colonoscopy process starts with a visit to your gastroenterologists in Allentown, New Tripoli and Lehighton, PA. Call (610) 379-0443 to make your appointment with Dr. Hasan, Dr. Schwartz or Dr. Jawairia of Lehigh Gastroenterology Associates.

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