How do you know if you need a colonoscopy?

Louisiana has fourth-highest colorectal cancer death rate in US
Published: Mar. 30, 2023 at 7:38 PM CDT
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SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) — Have you or anyone in your family suffered from colorectal cancer?

Or do you have an inflammatory bowel disease?

March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month, and this may be your reminder to schedule your colonoscopy.

Louisiana has the fourth-highest colorectal cancer death rate in the United States, according to Louisiana Cancer Prevention & Control Programs.

They say it’s due to a lack of screenings and Louisiana being a high-risk population.

How do you know if you need a colonoscopy?

“Everyone should really pay attention to their bodies. If you start noticing changes, changes such as change in stool size, caliber, meaning the diameter of it, blood in your stool, if you start having abdominal pain, weight loss or other things that just seem a little off, please see your doctor because you may need to get an colonoscopy sooner then age 45,” said Dr. James C. Hobley, of Gastrointestinal Specialists.

Colon cancer may not be the only reason to get a colonoscopy. In fact, there are other health factors that could lead to potentially getting the procedure sooner than age 45.

“I was only 21 years old when I got my first colonoscopy,” Shelby Willis said. “But my primary care doctor recommended it because I had extreme bowel issues and irritable bowel syndrome for a long time, so they recommended I get a colonoscopy.”

And maybe like many of you, Willis said she was uncertain about the procedure and the process.

“As anyone could imagine, any kind of prep for a medical procedure is no fun. But I think that the doctors and my nurses with Gastrointestinal Specialists made it really comfortable for me because they picked the easiest prep option for me.”

The prep includes not eating for 24 hours. But once the procedure is done, the recovery time is little to none.

“I think my biggest issue with the colonoscopy was getting my eating habits back to normal after not eating for an entire day. I just had to get my stomach back to not feeling so queasy,” Willis said. “But other than that, like my recovery was fine. I was back to doing normal things the next day.”

Colon cancer is highly preventable if treated early and properly.

“So for the patients out there watching this, if you have family history, then you probably need to be screened earlier, especially if they were young when they were ever diagnosed,” Hobley recommended.

“The other people that need to be careful are people who have conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease; that’s Crohn’s and also colitis. You need to be screened earlier because you have a higher propensity of developing colon cancer.”

If you’re the recommended age, have a family history of colon cancer or have a bowel issues, you can schedule your colonoscopy appointment with Gastrointestinal Specialists in the patient portal or speak with a nurse at