Preparing for your appointmentBy Mayo Clinic staff
If it's suspected that you have colon polyps, you're likely to start by seeing your family doctor or a general practitioner. However, in some cases when you call to set up an appointment, you may be referred immediately to a gastroenterologist.
Because appointments can be brief, and there's often a lot of ground to cover, it's a good idea to be well prepared. Here's some information to help you get ready, and what to expect from your doctor.
What you can do
- Be aware of any pre-appointment restrictions. At the time you make the appointment, be sure to ask if there's anything you need to do in advance, such as restrict your diet.
- Write down any symptoms you're experiencing, including any that may seem unrelated to the reason for which you scheduled the appointment.
- Write down key personal information, including any major stresses or recent life changes.
- Make a list of all medications, including over-the-counter medications, as well as any vitamins or supplements, that you're taking.
- Write down questions to ask your doctor.
Your time with your doctor is limited, so preparing a list of questions ahead of time will help you make the most of your time together. List your questions from most important to least important in case time runs out. For colon polyps, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
- What's the most likely cause of my symptoms?
- Why did I develop polyps?
- What kinds of tests do I need? Do these tests require any special preparations?
- What treatments are available?
- What are the alternatives to the primary approach that you're suggesting?
- I have these other health conditions. How can I best manage these conditions together?
- Are there any dietary restrictions that I need to follow?
- Are there any brochures or other printed material that I can take with me? What websites do you recommend?
- What are the chances these polyps are malignant?
- If you find a polyp, how safe is it to remove during colonoscopy?
- If you find a polyp, when will I need another colonoscopy?
In addition to the questions that you've prepared to ask your doctor, don't hesitate to ask additional questions that may come up during your appointment.
What to expect from your doctor
Your doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions. Being ready to answer them may reserve time to go over points you want to spend more time on. Your doctor may ask:
- When did you first begin experiencing symptoms?
- Have your symptoms been continuous or occasional?
- How severe are your symptoms?
- What, if anything, seems to improve your symptoms?
- What, if anything, appears to worsen your symptoms?
- Have you or has anyone in your family had colon cancer or colon polyps?
- How much do you smoke and drink?
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- What I need to know about colon polyps. National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse. http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/colonpolyps_ez/. Accessed May 23, 2011.
- Colorectal cancer prevention and treatment. American Gastroenterological Association. http://www.gastro.org/patient-center/digestive-conditions/AGAPatientBrochure_ColorectalCancer.pdf. Accessed May 23, 2011.
- Ahnen DJ, et al. Approach to the patient with colonic polyps. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed May 23, 2011.
- Detailed guide: Colorectal cancer. American Cancer Society. http://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/cid/documents/webcontent/003096-pdf.pdf. Accessed May 23, 2011.
- Torpy JM, et al. Colon polyps. Journal of the American Medical Association. 2008;300:1480.
- Itkowitz SH, et al. Colonic polyps and polyposis syndromes. In: Feldman M, et al. Sleisenger & Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease: Pathophysiology, Diagnosis, Management. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2010. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/about.do?eid=4-u1.0-B978-1-4160-6189-2..X0001-7--TOP&isbn=978-1-4160-6189-2&about=true&uniqId=229935664-2192. Accessed May 25, 2011.
- Ahnen DJ, et al. Colorectal cancer: Epidemiology, risk factors, and protective factors. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed May 23, 2011.
- Tolliver KA, et al. Colonoscopic polypectomy. Gastroenterology Clinics of North America. 2008;37:229.