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Colonoscopy: Reasons to Get This Life-Saving Procedure

young female doctor talking to an old female patient

Colon cancer is the number one cancer in men and number 2 in women. But the good news is that it is one of the few cancers that can be prevented with a screening colonoscopy (no symptoms or signs present). It is one of the most effective ways to detect and prevent colorectal  cancer and is the gold standard for screening. 

A colonoscopy is an investigative procedure that allows the doctors to examine the inner lining of the colon and rectum (mucosal layer). During the procedure, a flexible and narrow tube with a camera at the tip is used to assess the colon and rectum. Colonoscopy can also be used to detect diverticulosis, colitis, and inflammatory bowel disease. 

It is also used to detect and remove cancerous or precancerous polyps. It is recommended that those over the age of (45) 50 years  or those with a family history of colon polyps or colon cancer to speak to  their doctor about a colonoscopy. Early detection and removal of polyps can save lives.

The process of a colonoscopy is relatively straightforward. The patient will be asked to drink a laxative (bowel preparation solution)  several hours before the planned procedure to cleanse the colon. This enables the doctor to examine the lining of the colon and rectum for any abnormal growths or polyps. The doctor can also take a sample for a biopsy if necessary.

Reasons to Get a Colonoscopy

Over the years, several studies have demonstrated that colonoscopy is  the most reliable way to detect and prevent colorectal cancer. It is recommended that adults between the age of (45) 50-75 should undergo a colonoscopy as part of their health screening process. 

It is a safe procedure

Colonoscopy is safe and the risks of complications are very low. Your doctor will discuss all the risks with you before the procedure. If you have a family history of colon cancer, your doctor may recommend a colonoscopy even before the age of (45) 50; usually 10 years before the age of diagnosis of cancer of the family member. This is to ensure early detection and to reduce the risk of developing colon cancer.

It helps to diagnose other diseases

Colonoscopy can also detect other conditions such as Crohn’s Disease, ulcerative colitis, diverticulosis, angiodysplasia and/or polyps. During the procedure, your doctor may take a biopsy and/ or remove polyps if any are found. 

It helps to detect any abnormalities in the bowel

Colonoscopy is also used to detect any abnormal tumours in the bowel. This is important as it can help to diagnose and treat any potential issues before they become more serious.

It is the best way to detect colon cancer at its earliest stages

Colonoscopy is the best way to detect colon cancer at its earliest stages. It can detect any suspicious growths e.g.polyps that may be cancerous. It is also important to note that colorectal cancer can develop without any symptoms and or signs hence  is important to undergo a colonoscopy even if you are symptom-free i.e., screening colonoscopy.

Conclusion

Overall, a colonoscopy is a safe and effective way to screen for and prevent colorectal cancer. It is a procedure that can help save lives. If you are over (45)/50 or have a family history of colon cancer and or polyps, it is important to speak to your doctor about having a colonoscopy. Early detection and removal of polyps can make a difference in the long-term prognosis of colorectal cancer.

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