A colonoscopy is an endoscopic examination of the colon (large intestine) using an instrument called a colonoscope, a small camera attached to a flexible tube.
According to Frederick Cason, MD, associate professor of surgery at The University of Toledo, the best way to check for colorectal cancer is through colonoscopy.
Colorectal cancer is also known as colon cancer or bowel cancer.
It is one of the most common cancers in the United States affecting 140,000 people every year. This type of cancer usually develops in the colon or the rectum. The colon and rectum are the parts of the digestive system, which is called the gastrointestinal (GI) system.
A colonoscopy is normally performed to visually check the entire colon and rectum for the presence of any abnormalities.
“Colonoscopy enables the physicians to check for and remove potentially cancerous polyps or tumors and to locate the invasive cancers at an early stage” says Dr. Cason.
According to Isam Daboul, MD, chief of gastroenterology, the patients can fall into one of the three categories: average-risk, moderate-risk or high-risk.
The American Cancer Society recommends everyone to begin routine colonoscopy screening for colorectal cancer at age 50 or earlier.
Regular colonoscopy to identify the risk:
Colonoscopy should be repeated every 5-10 years for those at average risk. For moderate risk person, colonoscopy is recommended every 3 to 5 years and every 1-2 years for a high risk person.
Once tumors or polyps in the colon have been detected and removed, follow-up colonoscopy need to be performed at regular intervals to identify the growth of any new polyp.
These colonoscopy recommendations are according to the American Cancer Society, the American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons, the American College of Gastroenterology and other interested groups.
It has been found that most of the Americans are not ready to perform a colonoscopy to detect or prevent colorectal cancer, as it is invasive. “People should overcome fear about the colonoscopy procedure and understand its benefits.” says Dr. Daboul.
“The technology of colonoscopy is so improved and the training has become so advanced that it is now a very easy and simple procedure.”
Today, most organizations of United Sates are in agreement to that Americans at age 50 or older should be regularly screened for colorectal cancer through colonoscopy. They also offer guidelines about colonoscopy.
“Colonoscopy is essential for prevention and early treatment of colon cancer”. Dr. Daboul says.
How colonoscopy is performed?
Colonoscopy is the best way to examine the entire colon and the rectum. Colonoscopy is usually done using a flexible instrument called colonoscope.
Using colonoscopy, it is now possible to prevent the occurrence of colon cancer by identifying the polyps and taking out the polyps at that time without any need for a major surgery (in the future).
There is a misconception among people that there will be severe pain during colonoscopy. But, the procedure is tolerable and the result will be very effective.
Today, colonoscopy is more accurate in detecting polyps or early cancer than an x-ray test of the colon.