Colonoscopy: A valuable screening tool for colorectal cancer

Colonoscopy: A valuable screening tool for colorectal cancer

Colonoscopy is a screening technique that is used significantly in the diagnosis and management of colonic disorders. The technique is well-tolerated, safe and effective in most of the patients when done accurately. It is very helpful in detecting the underlying conditions in the patients suffering from chronic diarrhea and polyps.

Colonoscopy is one of the most precise screening exams to diagnose and reduce the risk of colorectal cancer. It helps to find cancer at early stages and reduces associated mortality rates. This exam might be a new thing for you. But a little knowledge will be helpful for you. Here’s what you need to know about colonoscopy:

How is colonoscopy done?

During this procedure, the doctor inserts a colonoscope (a long, thin, flexible, lighted tube) through your anus into the colon and rectum. For easy insertion, the colonoscope is lubricated with gel. To make you more comfortable, you will be given a mild sedative and pain medicine prior to the procedure.

At the tip of the colonoscopic tube, there is a small video camera. The tube blows air into your colon that inflates the colon and aids the physician to see better. As the tube moves through the curves of your colon, the light from the colonoscope sends pictures to a monitor and enables the doctor to get the inside images of the colon.

Why is colonoscopy done?

Colonoscopy takes about 30 to 60 minutes. Your doctor may recommend a colonoscopy to:

  • Screen for colon cancer: Colonoscopy is used as a tool for diagnosing colon cancer. A meta-analysis of 6 observational studies demonstrated that screening with colonoscopy considerably lowers the risk of developing and dying from the colorectal tumor.
  • Look for more polyps. If you had polyps before, your doctor might suggest a follow-up colonoscopy to check for any additional polyps. Specific instruments can be passed through the colonoscope to take a small sample of tissue (biopsy) for analysis.

If necessary, polyps, inflamed tissue, or other types of suspicious-looking abnormal tissue can be removed during the colonoscopy. This is done to diminish your increased risk of colon cancer. You also can reduce the risk of colorectal cancer and associated polyps formation by adopting some healthy natural remedies. Must include this in your daily life. Click here to know about these.

  • Investigate intestinal signs and symptoms: A colonoscopy enables the doctor to explore possible causes of rectal bleeding, chronic diarrhoea or constipation, abdominal pain, change in bowel habits, and other intestinal concerns.
Getting ready for colonoscopy

Getting ready for the colonoscopy is crucial because your colon needs to be as clean as possible. Your colon should be thoroughly empty (bowel preparation) for the colonoscopy to be safe and precise. Here are a couple of things to keep in mind:

  • Avoid solid food for one to three days prior to the procedure. You might have to follow a liquid diet. Drinks may be limited to clear liquids such as plain water, tea and coffee without milk or cream, strained fruit juice.
  • Before colonoscopy, you will need to take a laxative or use an enema kit to speed up the emptying of your colon (visualization of the colon lining may be hampered by residual stool).
  • Tell your gastroenterologist about all the medicines you take, including any supplements, vitamins, or herbs, and also about any medical conditions or drug allergies you have.
  • You may be asked to cease taking blood-thinning medications (including aspirin) or some other medications for several days prior to colonoscopy.
  • Arrange for a family member or friend to drive you home as you might feel sleepy following a colonoscopy.
How often do you need colonoscopy?

How often should a person undergo colonoscopy depends on the degree of cancer risk and the abnormalities found at previous colonoscopies. People with a prior history of polyps or colon tumors and certain people with a family history of some types of non-colonic tumors or colonic problems that may be linked with colon cancer (such as colonic polyps) are at elevated risk of colon cancer and should therefore undergo periodic colonoscopies.

It is suggested that in both men and women at average risk of colon cancer, colonoscopy should be performed every ten years, beginning at age 50. People who are more prone to develop colorectal cancer may initiate sooner.

Take Away!

Colonoscopy is immensely helpful for the early diagnosis of colorectal cancer and polyps. Preparation for this test needs an extensive cleansing of the entire colon prior to the test. Seek advice on what to eat and how to clean your bowel from your doctor before undergoing colonoscopy. Talk with your medical care team about any concerns you have about colonoscopy.

You can also explore: Association between color of vegetables/fruits and colorectal cancer.

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