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Colonoscopy Services at UPMC in South Central Pa.

Colon screening (colonoscopy) saves lives! It is recommended that adults over the age of 50 have a colonoscopy every 10 years to check for growths in the colon or rectum that could be cancerous or precancerous. Finding these growths early means you can prevent cancer from occurring, or treat it during an early stage when treatment is most effective.

Colon Cancer Screening Guidelines

  • If you are of average risk, screenings are recommended every ten years beginning at age 50.
  • You should be screened before age 50 if you have symptoms such as abdominal or rectal pain, bleeding, change in bowel habits, or a family history of colon or rectal cancer or polyps.
  • If you have a family history of colon cancer, you should be screened 10 years earlier than the age of the family member when he or she was diagnosed, or at age 40, whichever is younger.
  • If you have a personal history of colon polyps, you should have a colonoscopy every three to five years.

What is a colonoscopy?

A colonoscopy is a test that allows your doctor to look at the inner lining of your rectum and colon with a thin flexible tube called a colonoscope. A small video camera is attached to the colonoscope that allows your physician to take pictures or video of the large intestine (colon).

A colonoscopy helps find ulcers, colon polyps, tumors, and areas of inflammation or bleeding. During a colonoscopy, tissue samples can be collected (biopsy) and abnormal growths can be taken out.

What To Expect

You will need to prepare for your colonoscopy by cleaning out your colon. This prep involves drinking a special liquid and usually takes one day, depending upon the type of prep your physician orders. Some preps may be taken the evening before the test.

The colon prep causes loose, frequent stools and diarrhea so that your colon will be empty for the test. Plan to stay home during your prep time since you will need to use the bathroom often.

Many people find the prep more uncomfortable than the actual procedure. During the procedure itself you will be given a mild sedative and will not feel any pain.

Do I need a referral from my physician for a colonoscopy?

Most people are referred for a colonoscopy by their physicians as part of their general screening regimes. However, healthy individuals can schedule their colonoscopy directly without having a preliminary appointment.

What conditions would prevent me from scheduling a colonoscopy without a referral?

If you meet any of the criteria below, please check with your physician to review your health before scheduling your colonoscopy:

  • Active coronary artery disease or heart attack within the past 12 months
  • Unstable chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or asthma, or on home oxygen
  • Stroke within the past 6 months
  • Unstable diabetes
  • Defibrillator or pacemaker placement within the past 6 months
  • 75 years old or older
  • Coumadin, Plavix, Pradaxa, Ticlid, or Xarelto use
  • Weight is 300 pounds or greater
  • Hospitalization within the past 6 months for congestive heart failure, asthma or COPD

Take the Next Step

Schedule an appointment at one of the practices below that is most convenient to you. Note those offices that offer direct colonoscopy scheduling if you meet the criteria as indicated above.

Need more information?

Many of our providers offer video visits. Call the office or schedule via your patient portal.

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