In May 2018, the American Cancer Society updated colorectal cancer screening guidelines recommending that men and women at average risk for colon cancer schedule an initial screening at age 45 instead of 50.
The new screening guideline means that there are thousands of Americans between 45 and 50 who need a colonoscopy. If you fall within this age range, you might feel overwhelmed with choosing a physician to perform your colonoscopy. How do you choose the most qualified gastroenterologist to screen for colon cancer?
You want the best GI doctor possible to perform your colonoscopy. After all, a large percentage of men and women only need to be screened once every ten years, so you want an expert gastroenterologist with the highest level of training.
Selecting the best GI specialist begins by asking the right qualifying questions when calling local endoscopy centers in your area. Here are some questions to ask to help you choose the best gastroenterologist:
All gastroenterologists have earned a medical doctorate and have completed a residency in internal medicine as well as a fellowship in gastroenterology. During a fellowship, physicians learn to conduct and assess physical examinations, complete GI procedures like endoscopy and colonoscopy, formulate diagnoses, and manage long-term digestive care plans for patients. Fellowship programs in gastroenterology range from two to four years, so you may want to ask how many years of fellowship training a GI doctor completed.
Gastroenterologists can select areas of specialty during their fellowships. Specialty areas can include peptic disorders, GI infections, liver disease, gallbladder disease or inflammatory bowel disease. When choosing a qualified gastroenterologist for your colonoscopy, think about what area of specialty will benefit you most.
If you’re older, you may want a physician who specializes in geriatric gastroenterology. If you have a family history of an inherited colon cancer syndrome, you may want a gastroenterologist who specializes in inherited and genetic disorders.
If your gastroenterologist detects a cancerous tumor during your colonoscopy, you may be referred to a surgeon who can remove the growth. If you need colorectal surgery, you should qualify surgeons with specific questions.
Within the field of general surgery, some surgeons will specialize in colorectal surgery. Ask questions about a surgeon’s training and experience in colon cancer surgery (The Nest).
You are your own best advocate in your digestive health care, so do not hesitate to ask gastroenterologists and surgeons these qualifying questions. If you’re at least 45 years old and have not yet had a baseline colonoscopy, it’s time to schedule the procedure. Click here to connect with an endoscopy center in your area and schedule a colonoscopy today.