Diagnosing Colorectal Cancer with Sigmoidoscopy in MA & RI
Sigmoidoscopy is a procedure that lets your doctor examine the lining of the rectum and some of the colon (large intestine). It’s a common screening test for colon cancer and may be performed along with a colorectal exam. Sigmoidoscopy is valuable because a large percentage of cancers start in this lower part of the intestinal tract.
In most cases, a gastroenterologist will perform your sigmoidoscopy. A surgeon, primary care doctor, nurse practitioner or physician assistant at Southcoast Health may also perform the procedure. It involves inserting a thin, flexible tube into the anus. The tube has a camera and a light to let the doctor see the inside of your rectum and a short segment of your colon.
Reasons for Sigmoidoscopy
A sigmoidoscopy is an important test that can detect colorectal cancer in its earliest, most curable stage. It may even find polyps before they become cancerous. It can also help your doctor find the reason for intestinal symptoms, such as:
- Abdominal pain
- Changes in bowel movements
- Rectal bleeding
Risks & Complications
There are very few risks with a sigmoidoscopy and complications are rare. It is possible to have some bleeding from the site where the doctor removed tissue. It’s also possible to tear the lining of the colon. Call your doctor if you experience abdominal pain, chills, fever, nausea or rectal bleeding.
How to Prepare
When you schedule a sigmoidoscopy in North Dartmouth or nearby area, your doctor will give you detailed instructions for preparing. Your colon needs to be completely empty for the exam. This means you’ll need to use an enema or strong laxative beforehand. You may also need to follow a liquid diet for 24 hours before the exam. Tell your doctor about all your medications and ask if you should take them the day of your procedure.
What to Expect After a Sigmoidoscopy at Southcoast Health
You can return to your normal activities after a sigmoidoscopy unless you had sedation for the exam. If this is the case, you’ll need someone to drive you home, and you’ll need to rest.
During the exam, your doctor puts air into your colon to have a better view of the lining. You may feel bloated and have mild cramps for a short period of time afterward. This will let up as you pass the air. Be aware you may also pass some stool or small amounts of blood.
Southcoast Health offers many women’s health services, including sigmoidoscopy, in North Dartmouth and surrounding areas of MA and RI.