What Is a Gastroenterologist?

A gastroenterologist is a physician who manages diseases of the gastrointestinal tract – including the colon and rectum. A gastroenterologist can look for signs of diseases, like colon cancer, even if you don't have symptoms. The expert team of gastroenterologists at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Rahway provides individual care and personal attention at every step of your colon screening.

During your colonoscopy, the gastroenterologist will insert a thin tube with a tiny camera into the rectum to see the inside of the colon. Your gastroenterologist may wish to take a biopsy, or a small snip of tissue. Since polyps can turn in to cancer, if your gastroenterologist finds a polyp during your colonoscopy, the polyp will be promptly removed.

Why Do I Need To a Colonoscopy?

Colorectal cancer is the nation’s second-leading cause of cancer-related deaths; but it is one of only a few cancers that can be prevented. Through proper colorectal cancer screening, like a colonoscopy, a gastroenterologist can find and remove polyps hidden in the colon before they become cancerous. Sometimes, removing polyps can prevent cancer altogether.

Nearly 135,000 adults are diagnosed with colorectal cancer each year, but early detection and diagnosis of cancer saves lives. By the age of 50, all people should start getting regular screenings for colon cancer.

How often you should have a colonoscopy depends on many factors, including whether your doctor finds polyps or cancer. Generally, if you are low risk and a colonoscopy doesn’t find any polyps or cancer, your next test won’t be for 10 years. But if you have polyps removed or have increased risk factors like a family history of colon cancer, the exam may need to be repeated in 5 years.

Colonoscopy 1,2,3

A colonoscopy allows your gastroenterologist to visualize the lining of your large intestine. It can be performed as part of a routine screening, for patients with known polyps or a family history of polyps, to evaluate a change in bowel habits such as diarrhea or constipation, to evaluate bleeding, or to evaluate changes in the lining of the colon.

When it comes to detecting and preventing colon cancer, nothing is more effective than a colonoscopy. But nothing is more dreaded, either. Follow these 3 simple steps to help lessen your anxiety.

1. Make an Appointment

When scheduling your colonoscopy, keep in mind that you will need two days off in a row, one for the prepping and one for the actual test. If you work a Monday to Friday schedule, we recommend trying to schedule your colonoscopy for a Monday morning, you can do the prep on Sunday and only take off one day of work (Monday).

2. Get Prepped

Simply stated, a clean colon makes it easier for the gastroenterologist to find and remove polyps. The preparation varies from consumption of cleansing solution, laxatives, and clear liquid diet. Your physician will instruct you regarding the cleansing method which is best for you.

On prep day, you will need to be close to a bathroom. Many people find that flushable moistened wipes makes the process more comfortable.

3. Bring a Buddy

Due to the sedation, you will not be able to drive, drink alcohol, or operate machinery until the next day. So, bring a friend or loved one with you to your colonoscopy. Not only they will be your transportation from your colonoscopy, they can join you for a bite to eat after (Note: You will be hungry!)

Fear or anxiety can make your colonoscopy less comfortable. So, ask questions and speak up.

Reaching 80% Screened for Colorectal Cancer by 2018

RWJBarnabas Health is one of 500 local and national organizations to sign a pledge to support 80% By 2018, an effort led by the American Cancer Society (ACS), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable (NCCRT), to reduce colorectal cancer as a major public health problem and to work towards the shared goal of 80 percent of adults aged 50 and older being regularly screened for colorectal cancer by 2018.

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