A colonoscopy is a procedure to look inside your colon (large intestine) and examine its lining. The main tool used to look inside the colon is a colonoscope, which is a soft and flexible tube that is long and thin about the width of a finger. A tiny video camera that’s located at the end of thecolonoscope enables doctors to view the inside of the entire colon. If needed, polyps and other types of abnormal tissues can be removed using the scope during colonoscopy. Biopsies (or tissue samples) can also be taken during the procedure.
Colonoscopy is the primary tool for colon cancer prevention. Colon cancer is one of the leading causes of cancer deaths worldwide, including Singapore. The 5 year survival rate for Stage 1 Colorectal Cancer is around 90% but it drops to around 15% for Stage 4. Screening for colorectal cancer through colonoscopies can help to catchthe disease in its earliest stages, when it is most treatable.
Anyone with a moderate risk of colon cancer (such as a person aged 50 and above) would need a colonoscopy to see if there are any polyps (abnormal growths). If you have a family history of colon cancer, you should start getting a colonoscopy earlier.
Before the procedure, you will need to empty (clean out) your colon. Any residue in the colon might make it difficult for doctors to get a good view of the rectum or colon during the procedure.
For a successful colonoscopy, you should follow the instruction of the bowel preparation given to you.
You should fast for at least 6 hours prior to your colonoscopy. You may drink clear fluid up to 2 hours before the procedure but milk is not allowed during the fasting.
Pregnant women or patients with kidney, heart, or liver problems may be at additional risk during the bowel preparation as some of the medications given may cause electrolyte imbalance and dehydration. These patients should continue to monitor themselves and to stop the bowel preparation if they notice anything abnormal. They should also immediately consult their doctor if they feel unwell during the bowel preparation.
You should also tell your doctor about any allergies you have and about any prescription and over-the-counter medications you’re taking. For your safety, the doctor may tell you to change your dosage or to stop taking certain medications before the endoscopy.
A colonoscopy, performed by a qualified and experienced gastroenterologist or surgeon, is a safe procedure that involves minimal discomfort for the patient. Although there is a risk of perforation and bleeding, it is extremely rare, occurring in 1 in every 1000 cases.
You may also experience some of the common side effects such as belly discomfort or bloating. This is because the specialists may use air to insufflate the colon. They mightalso use a suction device, water, or certain surgical tools to take off a polyp. All of the aforementioned can stretch and distend the colon so it is possible for patients to feeluncomfortable for a day or two after the procedure. However, the discomfort will naturally resolve itself after a while.
You will be given sedation to make you sleepy during the colonoscopy and the effects usually take around an hour to wear off. However, it is common that you may still feel the effects throughout the day even after being discharged. Hence, you must not drive, work or make any important decision after the procedure. Medical Certificate will be issued if needed and you should rest at home for the rest of the day.
In some instances, you can pass gas or feel bloated some hours after. This is normal as you are clearing air from the colon. You can try walking to ease the discomfort. Some might notice very small blood in their bowel after the procedure. In most cases, this is not a cause for concern. However, if you continuously have fever, pass blood, and experience abdominal pain, you need to visit your doctor right away.
No! Over the years, there has been much improvement to colonoscopy preparation. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not as troublesome or unpleasant as many people think.
You will be prescribed medications to take the day before that will help you empty your bowels so that the specialists will be able to get a clear view of your colon during the procedure. It’s a very simple preparation for something that can be lifesaving.
You shouldn’t eat or drink anything before the procedure. This includes gum or mints. However, you can usually have clear liquids after midnight 6-8 hours before the endoscopy if your procedure is in the afternoon.
Clear liquids include:
You should avoid drinking anything red or orange as the specialist may mistake this for blood through theendoscope during the colonoscopy.
Blood tests might be done before the procedure to check the blood level and how well it clots. If you are taking maintenance medications, you need to inform the doctor about it so they will know if you are taking something that changes how your blood clots.
You should also tell your doctor about any allergies you have and about any prescription and over-the-counter medications you’re taking.
Some medications can increase your risk for bleeding during the procedure. These medications include:
Any medications that cause drowsiness can interfere with the sedatives that the procedure will require. Antianxiety medications and many antidepressants could affect your response to the sedative. If you take insulin or other medications to control diabetes, it’s important to make a plan with your doctor so that your blood sugar does not get too low.
Dr Dennis Koh graduated from University of Nottingham, United Kingdom with a Bachelor in Medicine and Bachelor in Surgery (MBBS) as well as a Bachelor in Medical Science. He then furthered his medical education and embarked on his surgical training in Singapore. He obtained his Master of Medicine in Surgery from National University of Singapore in 2005.
Our host, Jerald Foo, will be taking you to our first centre at Jurong East.
A tiny video camera that’s located at the end of the colonoscope enables doctors to view the inside of the entire colon. If needed, polyps and other types of abnormal tissues can be removed using the scope during colonoscopy. Biopsies (or tissue samples) can also be taken during the procedure.
A colonoscopy may be recommended in the following scenarios:
Colonoscopy has very few risks. Some of the rare complications of the procedure can include:
Before the procedure, you will need to empty (clean out) your colon. Any residue in the colon might make it difficult for doctors to get a good view of the rectum or colon during the procedure. To empty your colon, you may be asked to:
Either your doctor will stop your dosage or you will be asked to stop taking the medications for the time being. If your doctor has any concerns about the quality of the view through the scope, a repeat colonoscopy might be recommended.
It is also possible that a shorter time may be recommended until your next colonoscopy. If the doctor is unable to advance the scope through your entire colon, a virtual colonoscopy might be recommended so your doctor can examine the rest of your colon.
Screening for colorectal cancer through colonoscopies can help to catch the disease in its earliest stages, when it is most treatable. Polyps are growths on the lining of the colon or rectum that may eventually turn into cancer.
Colonoscopy screening allows doctors to not only detect cancer, but also to remove polyps before they have a chance to become cancerous. That is why it’s important to talk to your doctor about when you should start getting screened for colorectal cancer.
Since colorectal cancer won’t manifest any symptoms until its advanced stage, it is crucial for people to talk with their doctors about the pros and cons of colonoscopy screening tests and how often it should be given.
The risk of colorectal cancer increases with age, and it is more common in people over the age of 50.
Other risk factors for colorectal cancer include a family history of the disease, obesity, smoking, and a sedentary lifestyle.
People with inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis are also at increased risk.
While there is no sure way to prevent colorectal cancer, certain lifestyle choices can reduce your risk. These include eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and getting regular screenings. If you are at high risk for colorectal cancer, you may need to be screened more frequently.
A colonoscopy allows a doctor to check for abnormal growths, such as polyps or cancer. It can also be used to treat certain conditions, such as bleeding or blockages in the colon or rectum.
Most patients are required to get a colonoscopy every five years, although this may vary depending on risk factors such as family history or previous polyp removal. The procedure is typically performed under sedation, meaning that you will be asleep during the exam.
It is important for patients who have had colorectal cancer to have regular colonoscopies. This is because the cancer can come back, and it is important to catch it early.
The interval between colonoscopies will be different for each person, depending on how high their risk is. Patients should talk to their doctor about how often they should have a colonoscopy.
There are other tests that can be done, but colonoscopies are the most effective way to detect cancer.
While screening for colorectal cancer is recommended for all adults over the age of 50, patients who have had radiation therapy in the abdomen or pelvis are at increased risk for developing the disease and may need to start screenings earlier.
Radiation therapy is a common treatment for cancers such as ovarian cancer and prostate cancer, and can be an effective way to kill cancer cells. However, radiation can also damage healthy tissue, including the cells lining the colon and rectum. This damage can lead to changes in the colon that can eventually result in cancer.
For this reason, it is important for patients who have had radiation therapy to talk to their doctor about their risks and discuss when they should start getting screened for colorectal cancer.
IBD, or inflammatory bowel disease, is a condition that causes chronic inflammation in the digestive tract. IBD can be very painful and debilitating, and patients often suffer from a range of other symptoms, including fatigue, weight loss, and diarrhea.
Unfortunately, IBD also puts patients at a higher risk of developing colorectal cancer. The inflammation caused by IBD can damage the lining of the colon, making it more susceptible to cancerous growths. In addition, patients with IBD are often prescribed immunosuppressive drugs to control their symptoms, which can also increase their risk of cancer.
We provide comprehensive financing options for a seamless and hassle-free screening experience for our patients with various insurance plans. Some plans include cashless services for colonoscopies. To learn more about your financing options and check your eligibility for a cashless procedure, contact our friendly clinic staff for assistance.
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