With colorectal cancer being a major health concern worldwide, screenings play a vital role in early detection and prevention. These procedures, designed to identify colorectal cancer at its most treatable stages, can be lifesaving. Understanding what to expect during these screenings and how to prepare can ease anxieties and empower individuals to take charge of their health. 

How Do I Know Which Colorectal Screening Test Is Right for Me?

There are several colorectal cancer screening tests available, each designed to detect issues at their earliest stages.
From comprehensive colonoscopies to non-invasive stool-based tests, choosing the right screening option is critical.

3 Types of Colorectal Cancer Screenings 

1. Colonoscopy

What to Expect: A colonoscopy provides a complete view of the colon and rectum. If polyps are found, they can often be removed during the procedure.
Preparation:  Preparation involves a clear liquid diet the ay before the test and taking a laxative prescribed by your doctor to empty your colon. Ensuring your colon is empty is crucial for a successful examination and significant cancer risk reduction, exceeding 90% over the next ten years. 

2. Flexible Sigmoidoscopy

What to Expect: Similar to a colonoscopy, this test examines the rectum and the lower part of the colon– specifically targeting the bottom ¼ of the large intestine.
Preparation: Preparation may involve a combination of enemas and a clear liquid diet to ensure the lower colon is clean.

3. Stool-Based Tests

What to Expect: These tests analyze your stool for signs of cancer, including hidden blood or DNA changes associated with cancer or polyps.
Preparation: There is typically no dietary or physical preparation required, but following instructions on how to collect and store the stool sample is essential.

Positive or abnormal test findings require the next step: a complete colonoscopy to ensure a comprehensive examination and accurate diagnosis.  

Preparing for Your Colorectal Screening

Before the Screening

  • Understand the Procedure: Discuss the screening process with your healthcare provider to know what to expect.
  • Dietary restrictions: Follow any dietary restrictions provided by your healthcare provider closely, usually starting a few days before the procedure.
  • Medication Management: Inform your doctor about any medications you take, as you may need to adjust your regimen. 


The Day Before

  • Clear Liquid Diet: Stick to clear broths, tea, coffee (without milk or creamer), clear juices, and gelatin. Avoid anything red or purple, which can be mistaken for blood during the screening.
  • Laxatives: Take the prescribed laxative according to your doctor’s instructions. Be prepared to stay close to a bathroom once you start taking them.


The Day of the Screening

  • Final Preparations: If you’re undergoing a colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy, you may need to stop drinking liquids several hours before the procedure.
  • Transportation Arrangements: Arrange for someone to drive you home, as you will not be able to drive yourself if you’re given a sedative.


After the Screening

  • Recovery: If you were sedated, you might need to rest until the effects wear off. You may also experience some bloating or gas discomfort. Following the procedure, you’re free to resume full activities or return to work without delay.
  • Results: Your doctor will discuss the results with you and suggest the next steps if any follow-up is required.

Colon Cancer Screening in Fort Lauderdale

Colorectal cancer screenings are a vital part of maintaining your health. At Holy Cross Health, our advanced screening technologies and expert medical team provide a foundation of support and care for our community. If you’re due for a screening, don’t delay in making an appointment today.

Proactive health measures today can ensure a healthier life ahead.

Dr. Patrick Amar