Doctor Going Over Results

Interpreting Your COLONOSCOPY Results

Frequently Asked Questions 

After your colonoscopy, you will receive a note from Dr Alexis with a summary of the pertinent findings, instructions for follow-up (if needed), and recommendations for when your next colonoscopy is due.  Pathology results can take up to 7-10 days to be processed and resulted. Dr Alexis reviews and interprets all of the results as they arrive; copies are routinely sent to the patient's PCP/referring doctor. Unless otherwise instructed, for routine cases we ask that patients call the office in 10-14 days to be notified of their pathology results. For more information, Dr Alexis has  prepared the chart below. 

Normal Colonoscopy
Normal Colonoscopy

This is a normal appearing colon. No evidence of pre-cancerous growths was found. Depending on prior personal history or family history, your next colonoscopy should be in 5-10 years. I will give you personalized recommendations.

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Tubular Adenoma (Small size)
Tubular Adenoma (Small size)

This is a small tubular adenoma, the most common type of pre-cancerous polyps I find during screening colonoscopy. Unless noted otherwise, small polyps like these are completely removed from the colon and sent to pathology. The presence of one or more tubular adenoma indicates the patient is at "higher-than-average" risk for developing colon cancer and should be have a screening colonoscopy at least every 5 years.

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Tubular Adenoma (Moderate Size)
Tubular Adenoma (Moderate Size)

This is a sessile (flat) polyp. It is most likely a tubular adenoma, the most frequent type of colon polyp. Unless noted otherwise, polyps like these are completely removed from the colon and sent to pathology. The presence of one or more tubular adenoma indicates the patient is at "higher-than-average" risk for developing colon cancer and should be have a screening colonoscopy every 3-5 years. I may recommend more frequent colonoscopies if there are other concerns.

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Sessile Serrated Adenoma
Sessile Serrated Adenoma

"SSA" are another type of pre-cancerous polyp. They are found most frequently on the right side of the colon. These are notoriously difficult to see. If you have an SSA, we should repeat your screening colonoscopy every 3 years.

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Large Tubulovillous Adenoma
Large Tubulovillous Adenoma

Another type of pre-cancerous polyp, a tubulovillous adenoma is a bit more aggressive and needs to be excised completely to prevent progression to cancer. Follow-up should be in 3-5 years. This would be considered an advanced adenoma.

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Hyperplastic Polyps
Hyperplastic Polyps

These are most commonly found in the rectum and the left side of the colon, and often grouped together. They are not pre-cancerous. By themselves, the presence of HPs does not increase your risk of developing adenomas or cancer. Sometimes, I cannot tell if a small polyp is hyperplastic or adenomatous with the colonoscope, so I remove the polyp for microscopic evaluation. In general, "HP is OK"

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Colon Cancer
Colon Cancer

Nearly all colon cancers develop from adenomas, though not every adenoma will develop into a cancer. If a colon cancer, (or a very large polyp suspicious for cancer) is found, samples of tissue will be obtained. Prior to surgical therapy, we will do staging studies, which includes labs and imaging. We will meet again as soon as all of these results are ready to review.

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When is my next colonoscopy?
When is my next colonoscopy?

Because colon cancer develops in a relatively predictable, stepwise, and slow fashion, average risk people can be safely screened every 10 years. If you have a history of polyps, then the interval should be more frequent. Every 5 years is most common, but some people are on an every 3 year schedule. If you have a first degree relative with colon cancer or advanced adenoma, colonoscopy should be performed every 5 years. Click link for more information.

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What do I tell my family?
What do I tell my family?

First-degree relatives of people with cancer should be screened at 40 years of age, or 10 years younger than the earliest diagnosis in the family. First-degree relatives of people with advanced adenomas should be screened at 40 years of age, or at the age of the earliest diagnosis in the family. I can help clarify these recommendations since they are not one-size-fits-all.

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Preventing Polyps + Cancer
Preventing Polyps + Cancer

Healthy Habits: whole grains, fruits, veggies, no tobacco, limit alcohol, healthy weight, daily physical activity. Stay up to date with your screening colonoscopies, as per your doctor's recommendations. Consider calcium and vitamin D: these may have a protective effect against recurrent polyps and cancer.

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Colitis
Colitis

Colitis is inflammation of the colon. There are numerous types of colitis. Biopsies from an area of inflamed tissue can help make the diagnosis and guide treatment.

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Diverticulosis
Diverticulosis

This is a common condition that occurs when small pouches develop thru weak spots in the wall of the colon. Diverticulosis can cause bleeding, inflammation (diverticulitis), or other serious complications. The most common methods for prevention of complications are: eat a high-fiber diet, avoid fat and red meats, and avoid smoking. Nuts and seeds are just fine: there is good evidence to suggest that nuts/seeds as part of a high-fiber diet is actually protective for diverticulosis complications.

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Please contact us to make an appointment if you have additional questions about your colonoscopy results.