If you are at average risk for colon cancer, you probably will only need a screening colonoscopy once every ten years. That's why it is important that you receive a quality colonoscopy every time. You want to be certain that your colon is free of any precancerous polyps that could develop into cancer.
A quality colonoscopy is an actual term that has defined criteria. There is nothing like having peace of mind that your screening is top-notch, so here are the three components of a quality colonoscopy and some questions that you can ask your gastroenterologist:
Adenoma Detection Rate (ADR)
According to Stop Colon Cancer Now physician Dr. Paul Brown of Louisville Endoscopy Center, “ADR is the percentage of time that at least one adenomatous polyp is detected during a physician’s screening colonoscopies. Knowing a physician’s ADR is an important qualifying factor in selecting the specialist with whom you feel most confident performing your colonoscopy.” The national average is 25 percent for men and 15 percent for women, so keep these numbers in mind as minimal requirements. When interviewing gastroenterologists, you may confidently ask, “What is your ADR?”
Cecal Intubation Rate
Cecal intubation rate refers to how often a physician sees the entire colon. The colonoscope should be advanced all the way to the cecum to allow visualization of the entire colon. A physician’s cecal intubation rate should be greater than 95 percent for screening colonoscopies, so you may ask your gastroenterologist, “What is your cecal intubation rate?”
The final measure of a quality colonoscopy is withdrawal time. Colonoscopies require time and patience as your gastroenterologist scopes your entire colon from cecum to rectum for adenomas or polyps. Withdrawal time refers to how quickly the colonoscope is removed from the colon once the scope reaches the cecum, the farthest point in the colon. You should ask your gastroenterologist, “What is your average withdrawal time for a colonoscopy?” The minimum time should be six minutes, so look for a doctor with a longer average withdrawal time than six minutes. This is associated with a higher ADR.
You also have your own set of responsibilities in assuring a quality colonoscopy. You must take time to read the bowel preparation instructions from your selected gastroenterologist and follow those guidelines to the letter. To give your doctor the best view of your colon, your bowel must be completely clear of debris and waste. Your thorough preparation partnered with your doctor’s expertise will ensure a quality colonoscopy. As we all celebrate Colon Cancer Awareness Month together, let’s commit to increasing the nationwide screening rate by scheduling a screening colonoscopy in March.