With March being Colon Cancer Awareness month, I wanted to help spread the awareness message in San Antonio, TX that following the recommended screening guidelines is the key to beating this cancer. This year I thought I would do something different by sharing a few Colonoscopy FAQs to help dispel some of the misconceptions and educate on why it is best way to screen for colon cancer.
If you know someone 50 years or older, make sure they know about the importance of colon cancer screening. Thank you in advance for helping to promote this awareness message in San Antonio and let me know if you have any questions related to colon cancer.
Russell Havranek, MD
Colonoscopy Information San Antonio, TX
Q: What is a colonoscopy?
A: Colonoscopy is a procedure that allows the doctor to directly image and examine the entire colon. It is used to evaluate various gastrointestinal conditions like colon cancer and GI symptoms like bleeding. The physician will use a flexible tube called a colonoscope to examine the colon while taking biopsies or removing polyps if needed during the procedure.
Q: Why is colonoscopy regarded as the gold standard for colon cancer screening exams?
A: Colonoscopy is the only colon cancer screening exam that allows the physician to view the entire colon and then both detect and remove polyps. This distinction makes colonoscopy the best colon cancer screening exam.
Q: Why is there a trend of more younger adults being detected with colon cancer?
A: It is believed that this is primarily due to unhealthy lifestyle choices. Increasing rates of obesity and lack of activity amongst younger adults are key contributing factors.
Q: How can I help reduce my risk of colon cancer?
A: The best thing you can do to prevent colon cancer is get screened for colon polyps and have them removed before they have a chance to grow. We also know that a healthy diet and lifestyle can make a difference. Try to maintain a healthy weight. Get on a consistent exercise program and avoid high-fat foods while increasing your intake of fruits, vegetables and grains. Smoking cessation and limiting the amount of alcohol intake can also make a difference.
Q: Is colonoscopy painful?
A: Colonoscopies are not painful. Patients are sedated during colonoscopy to keep them comfortable while still breathing on their own. If you have any concerns regarding pain or the sedation used during the exam, I encourage you to discuss that with your doctor prior to the procedure.
Q: Do I need to have an office visit prior to scheduling a colonoscopy?
A: Many gastroenterologists offer Open Access Colonoscopy to qualifying patients. I offer this option at my practice to help reduce patient costs and encourage higher colon cancer screening participation in San Antonio, TX. You can visit this page to learn more about open access colonoscopy or call us at 210-615-8308 and my staff would be happy to answer any questions.
Q: How much does a colonoscopy cost in San Antonio, TX?
A: Like many other medical procedures, the cost of a colonoscopy in San Antonio is determined based on the patient’s insurance and the type of colonoscopy (screening or diagnostic). I encourage all patients to discuss the procedure with their insurance provider prior to the procedure, so that they understand their financial responsibilities. Also, my staff is happy to assist with any insurance related questions.
Q: What is the difference between a screening and diagnostic colonoscopy?
A: Colonoscopies are coded as either Screening or Diagnostic. Here is a brief explanation of each type and why they are important relative to patient costs.
- A screening colonoscopy is for those over the age of 50 with no symptoms (either past or present) and without a personal or family history of gastrointestinal disease, colon polyps, or cancer. Insurance will typically cover 100% of the cost of a screening exam once every 10 years beginning at age 50.
- A colonoscopy is classified as diagnostic if the patient has past or present history of gastrointestinal symptoms or disease, polyps, or cancer. Diagnostic cancer screenings are typically covered by insurance but the cost is generally applied to your deductible. This means that you may be responsible for the cost of the procedure.
- TIP: Make sure to clarify all financial responsibilities before any medical procedure with your insurance provider.
Q: Does the type of doctor make a difference when screening for colon cancer?
A: A gastroenterologist has the most extensive endoscopic training, so that is the most capable specialist for this cancer screening. Here are statistics for 3 types of physicians:
- Colonoscopies performed by a gastroenterologist reduce the chances of a colon cancer death by 65%.
- Colonoscopies provided by general doctors reduce the chances of a colon cancer death by 57%.
- Colonoscopies performed by a general surgeon reduce the probability of a colon cancer death by 52%.