In Singapore, the number one cancer overall is colon or colorectal cancer. In the United States, colorectal cancer follows lung cancer as the second main cause of death. Fortunately, colonoscopy screening makes the condition one of the very few cancers that can be prevented.
Colonoscopy examines the inner linings of the colon (where colon cancer often originates). During the procedure, a flexible, long, and narrow tube will be used to assess the colon and the rectum. Colonoscopy screening is also used to detect diverticulosis, colitis, and inflammatory bowel disease.
Primarily, during colonoscopy, doctors will look for cancerous or pre-cancerous polyps. They can also remove the polyps painlessly and quickly during the procedure. It is recommended that you speak with your doctor about the procedure if you check the following factors:
- You are over 50 years old
- You have a family history of colon polyps or colon cancer
- You notice bleeding, pain, or changes in your bowel movement (regardless of age)
If you are hesitant to get a colonoscopy, here are some of the reasons why you should undergo this life-saving procedure:
It is painless.
You will be sedated during colonoscopies and hence it is unlikely that you will feel anything during the procedure. Your breathing, blood pressure, and heart will also be monitored during the procedure.
While you may experience some soreness at the IV site, it is often very minimal and would go away on its own. It is also possible that you will pass gas, at least an hour or two after colonoscopy. Fortunately, this is common and something you should not worry about.
It is quick.
The procedure is usually done within 15-30 minutes. Taking the day off is recommended so that you can fully recover from the sedation.
Bowel preparation is convenient and easy to follow.
Over the years, there has been much improvement to colonoscopy preparation. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not as troublesome or unpleasant as many people think. Patients will be prescribed medications to take the day before that will help you empty your bowels so that the specialists will be able to get a clear view of your colon during the procedure. It’s a very simple preparation for something that can be lifesaving.
Most effective colon cancer screening option.
While there are other screening methods to detect colon cancer, colonoscopy is considered one of the best options available. Unlike the others, colonoscopy offers many benefits that are hard to miss. For starters, you only need to have the procedure done every 10 years if your results are normal.
Other methods such as flexible sigmoidoscopy need to be done at least every five years. Another procedure that needs to be carried out every five years is double-contrast barium enema. However, if a suspicious mass or polyp is found, a colonoscopy will still be recommended to confirm the findings.
Also, while there are cancer detection tests that can be done at home, the results may be inaccurate. Moreover, symptoms usually only show during the advanced stages of colon cancer which might already be too late. On the other hand, colonoscopy can detect lesions that are pre-cancerous. Also if cancer is detected, you will still have to undergo colonoscopy so it is recommended that you undergo a colonoscopy from the start to save yourself the hassle.