The word "colonoscopy" can, understandably, make people cringe (and sit a little tighter). Although this topic can lead to discomfort, our experts at Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center are here to calm your fears. Colon cancer is a very common and threatening disease, but if caught early through regular colonoscopies, it is highly preventable.

The following is a list of common questions and answers regarding the "scariest" parts of a colonoscopy.

Q. What is a colonoscopy?

A. A colonoscopy is an examination that enables your doctor to examine the lining of your colon (large intestine). The doctor will take a thin, flexible tube, with a little camera and source of light at its tip, and gently ease it through the colon (by way of the rectum) to look for polyps or signs of cancer. Small amounts of air are puffed into the colon to keep it open so doctors can get the best pictures.

Q. Why do I have to take laxatives?

A. Studies have shown that fewer polyps are detected in patients without proper bowel preparation. The reason: the camera can't see through anything in the colon that could obscure identification of a polyp or even a small cancer. In order for your physician to have the best chance of finding anything, the entire colon must be emptied.

Q. What should I do if I become nauseated or start vomiting because of the preparation laxative?

A. Slow down, but try to drink as much as you can as this will improve the quality of the preparation and examination.

Q. How bad is the pain after the procedure?

A. Contrary to popular belief, the pain level is very minimal for this procedure. Due to the air pressure during the procedure some discomfort or cramping may occur, but it shouldn't hurt.

As with many medical procedures, complications, although rare, may occur. Talk to your doctor about how you can expect to feel during and after the test, and how to watch for possible problems that may come up after the procedure.

Q. What if my doctor found one or more polyps during the colonoscopy?

A. Don't panic. A polyp doesn't necessarily mean you have cancer. The number, type, size and location of polyps will determine what additional treatment your doctor recommends. Some polyps can be completely removed during a colonoscopy, meaning if you had a small to medium size polyp, your doctor may have already removed it.

For more answers about regular colonoscopy procedures, a candid discussion with your doctor will calm concerns you may have. If you decide to schedule a colonoscopy, please call (208) 227-2777, and we can get it on the calendar at your convenience.