When you go to your gastroenterologist for your first colonoscopy, you probably assume that he or she will be asking all the questions and that you will provide the answers. You can safely assume that your gastroenterologist will ask questions regarding your diet, level of physical activity, family history, and whether you are experiencing any symptoms related to your GI health. But there are some important questions that you should ask your gastroenterologist as well.
The #1 Question is…
The most important question that you should ask your gastroenterologist is, “What is your adenoma detection rate (>ADR)?” Adenomas are precancerous polyps that your physician will identify and remove during your colonoscopy. ADR is the proportion of individuals undergoing a complete screening colonoscopy who have one or more adenomas, or polyps, detected. Your gastroenterologist’s ADR will differ between men and women, so look for an ADR of at least 25 percent for male patients and 15 percent for female patients. Remember, the purpose of scheduling a screening colonoscopy is to prevent colon cancer, so you want a physician with a high adenoma detection rate. This means that he or she is locating and removing precancerous polyps from a higher percentage of patients.
Don’t Be Shy in Asking
You may feel like you are being too bold in asking for numbers and percentages from your gastroenterologist, but asking about ADR is extremely common and even necessary. ADR is a quality measure that distinguishes the best gastroenterologists in the profession, so your physician should be proud to share his or her ADR. You also should inquire about average withdrawal time. This refers to the amount of time that it takes for your gastroenterologist to remove the colonoscope after reaching the beginning of the colon called the cecum. High ADRs are usually associated with a longer withdrawal time, so look for a withdrawal time of at least six minutes.
Polyps that are left in the colon will grow and can develop into colon cancer. ADR and withdrawal time are two quality measures that should matter to you in ensuring that your physician views and removes precancerous polyps and lesions. You can do your part by reading and following the bowel preparation instructions to the letter so your colon is completely empty for the colonoscopy. A high ADR, longer withdrawal time and a complete bowel flush are the three most important components for a quality colon screening (Source: Advocate Health Care E-News).