An endoscopy can help detect cancer early by looking at your digestive tract. This is a non-surgical procedure which allows the doctor to look inside the digestive tract on a color monitor. The doctor inserts a tool called an “endoscope” into your esophagus (upper endoscopy) or your large intestine (colonoscopy) while you're lightly sedated. The endoscope is a thin tube with a strong light and camera at the end. Your doctor may recommend this procedure to check for colorectal cancer.
Preparing for your Endoscopy
You may have a blood test two days prior to your test to see how your blood clots. Tell your doctor if you may be taking any medication that changes your blood clots. These medications include, but are not limited to: Arthritis medication, Aspirin, or Warfarin.
Your gastroenterologist will perform the endoscopy in a hospital or surgery center. The procedure typically lasts 30 minutes or less. You may undergo the test without sedation but sedation is available to patients who want relief from the discomfort.
During your colonoscopy, your physician may remove benign polyps to prevent them from becoming cancerous. If your doctor is using an endoscopy to look for stomach cancer, they will be able to see the lining of your stomach, esophagus, and part of the small intestine. If there appears to be any abnormalities, your gastroenterologist may perform a biopsy (taking samples of tissue), which are then taken to a lab to look for signs of cancer. Stomach cancer may look like an ulcer through an endoscope, and the mass can be mushroom shaped.
After the Procedure
You will need to rest after your procedure. You may not eat or drink anything for approximately one hour or until the local anesthetic wears off. A general endoscopy is an outpatient procedure, meaning patients are allowed to go home within two to three hours of the procedure. Patients who choose to take a sedative cannot drive or drink alcohol for up to 24 hours and will require a designated driver to transport them after the examination. Results are made available to the patient within one to two weeks.
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