News and Information

This is Not Your Parent's Colonoscopy


CaroMont Health is Raising Awareness about Colorectal Screening for the Early Detection of Cancer. Join in on the conversation: @CaroMontHealth #noexcuses.

Colonoscopy, the mere mention of the term can strike fear in the hearts of many, and doctors have heard just about every excuse in the book for putting off getting a colonoscopy. But the truth is, colonoscopy screenings have changed. Preparation is now more manageable, many insurance carriers cover screening colonoscopies and doctors are held to high standards for patient care and experience. There are no good excuses when it comes to a procedure that can help save your life.

Colorectal cancer is the fourth most common cancer in the United States and the second leading cause of death from cancer. Locally, approximately 110 people are affected yearly by colorectal cancer. It affects all racial and ethnic groups and is most often found in people 50 and older.

Your best defense against colorectal cancer is regular check-ups and screening beginning at age 50. When detected in its early stages, colorectal cancer is easier to treat and outcomes are more favorable.

“Colorectal cancer is an important health issue worldwide and in the U.S.,” said Henry Danis, MD, of CaroMont Gastroenterology & Hepatology. “People don’t want to talk about it. There is a lot of fear and anxiety about getting a colonoscopy, but we want to educate people to remove some of that apprehension. We want them to be an advocate for their health.”

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends screening for colorectal cancer using high-sensitivity fecal occult blood testing, sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy beginning at age 50 and continuing until age 75. People at higher risk of developing colorectal cancer should begin screening at a younger age and may need to be tested more frequently. The decision to be screened after age 75 should be determined by an expert and on an individual basis.

There are specific risk factors that put a person at greater risk for colorectal cancer. Some of these are unavoidable, such as ethnicity (African Americans have the highest colorectal cancer incidence and mortality rates of all racial groups in the U.S.) and a family history of colorectal cancer.

Specific lifestyle changes, like quitting smoking and avoiding secondhand smoke as much as possible, incorporating daily physical activity and consuming a healthy diet can help reduce the risk of developing cancer.

“Having a colonoscopy can save your life,” said Dr. Danis. “It’s no longer your father or grandfather’s colonoscopy. There have been significant advancements, from the preparation and sedation, to the techniques and technology.”

Below are frequently asked questions and concerns that Dr. Danis and his colleagues hear from patients:

What is a colonoscopy?
A colonoscopy a procedure that allows doctors to get a close look at the large intestine for inflammation, bleeding, ulcers, or abnormal growths such as polyps, which could be a sign of cancer. A colonoscope, a small, lighted camera inside a soft flexible tube, is gently inserted inside the colon and sends pictures to a television screen.

Why do I need to get a colonoscopy?
Primarily, colonoscopies are done so the doctor can visually observe a person’s large intestine for the diagnosis of diseases of the colon or rectum such as inflammatory bowel disease and more importantly, cancer. A colonoscopy is valuable because you can take biopsies of tissue and repair abnormalities such as gastrointestinal bleeds.

Will it hurt?
Most people don’t experience pain or even remember the procedure, although some people may have more discomfort than others. Before the procedure, pain medications and a sedative help patients relax.

Who conducts the exam?
A board-certified gastroenterologist (a doctor who specializes in the digestive tract) and a trained endoscopy team will perform the procedure.

How do I prepare for the test?
In general, the preparation consists of limiting your diet to clear liquids the day before your procedure and drinking a special cleansing solution. The purpose for the prep solution is to rid the bowels completely of any waste in order for the doctor to get clear images of the digestive tract. Instructions will be provided by the doctor’s office ahead of time with details about preparation.

How will I feel after the procedure?
Because sedatives are used for the procedure, you may feel drowsy afterwards and should have someone drive you home. However, you will remain under careful observation until the sedation wears off. Additionally, you may experience some cramping, bloating or gas after the procedure. Full recovery occurs within a day at which time you can return to your regular activities.

What if they find something?
If a small polyp is found, your doctor will probably remove it during the screen to avoid the risk of it turning into cancer. In the case of a large polyp, a tumor, or anything else abnormal, the doctor will likely perform a biopsy at the time of the procedure using a colonoscope or sigmoidoscope. The biopsy is sent to a lab for closer observation.

To help kick off Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, Henry Danis, MD, was a guest on the Francene Marie Show to talk about the importance of screening for the early detection of colorectal cancer. Kiss 95.1 radio host, Francene Marie Morris, urged women listeners to get screened by talking about her recent screening experience at CaroMont Endoscopy in Belmont, NC.

Dr. Danis received his medical training from the University of Massachusetts Medical School and completed his residency at Brown University. Dr. Danis colleagues, William J. Caddick, MD and Srinivas Cheruvu, MD practice at CaroMont Gastroenterology & Hepatology in Gastonia, and are board certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine and Gastroenterology.

CaroMont has two convenient screening locations in Gastonia and Belmont. For more information or to schedule your screening colonoscopy, please call CaroMont Gastroenterology & Hepatology at 704.854.9990 or visit here.

Learn more about colorectal screening for the early detection of cancer and join in on the conversation on CaroMont’s Facebook and Twitter pages using #noexcuses