Despite being preventable, cases of oesophagal and colorectal cancer remain prevalent. This is because people fail to grasp the importance of endoscopy or colonoscopy.
Endoscopy is a general term used for nonsurgical procedures that helps doctors view hollow organs within the body. Colonoscopy is an endoscopic procedure for colon and rectum examination.
Now that you are familiar with the relationship between endoscopy and colonoscopy, we would like to tell you more about the importance of colonoscopy.
What is Colonoscopy?
Colonoscopy is not just the examination of the large intestine. It is a procedure employed to detect abnormal growth (most times, colorectal cancer) in the colon or rectum.
Importance Of Colorectal Screening
1. Colon Cancer Can Happen To Anyone
Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer and the second most common cause of cancer deaths. Most people who get colon cancer are over 50.
But in the last decade, the rate of colon cancer has increased in younger adults. It can strike anyone, even otherwise healthy people with no family history of the disease.
2. Colonoscopies Prevent Colon Cancer
Colon cancer, if spotted at an early stage, can be treated. Like most cancers, colorectal cancer starts with tiny growths called polyps. These polyps form on the lining of the colon or rectum and become cancerous if they are not removed.
A colonoscopy helps doctors spot and remove polyps, hence, reducing your risk of colorectal cancer.
3. Symptoms Are Not Enough
Colon cancer does not display symptoms at the early (polyp) stage. Symptoms often arise after polyps become cancerous. The essence of colorectal screening is to remove polyps irrespective of their symptom status.
4. Accurate And Thorough
Colonoscopies are referred to as the gold standard for endoscopic procedures because they can spot more than 95% of precancerous and cancerous cells in the colon or rectum. Pp
5. Puts Your Health In Your Hands
Adults between the age of 40 to 75 or with a family history of colon cancer are strongly advised to book an appointment with a doctor. This is because they have a high chance of having the disease and screening allows them to know their status and take charge of their health.
Risk Factors For Colorectal Cancer
- Age – Once you’re above 40, the chances become high.
- Personal and family history – if you have a parent or siblings with a history of polyps or colorectal cancer, go for a colonoscopy.
- Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) – IBD, which can be ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease also increases your chance of developing colorectal cancer.
- Lifestyle – Being overweight, a sedentary (inactive) lifestyle, high consumption of red meat or processed meat, alcohol and smoking are major risk factors.
Is Colonoscopy Safe?
Colonoscopy is extremely safe when performed by an experienced doctor. Complications such as bleeding or a perforated colon rarely occur anymore and that is thanks to modern technology.
Preparing For A Colonoscopy
Getting the green light for a colonoscopy depends on the state of your bowel. Your bowel has to be clean and contain little or no stool.
Your doctor will guide you on how to flush your bowel and tell you what to eat and what to steer clear of. The process usually involves:
1. Following a clear liquid diet a day before your colorectal examination
What you can eat or drink include black coffee, water, plain tea, water, clear gelatin, clear fruit juice, clear broth, and ginger ale. Avoid orange juice, red or purple gelatin, and sports drinks.
Note: failure to stick to these instructions may result in you repeating the whole prep.
2. A Laxative Prep
A laxative prep is usually personalized. Your doctor has to explain why you are on a particular prep and the best way to use it. Laxatives empty your colon to provide a clear view of the colon and rectum.
They are fluids you have to drink a day before your examination. Drink them alongside other clear liquids as stated above to keep you hydrated.
If after prep, the gastroenterologist does not have a clear view of your colon, a repeat must be carried out as soon as possible. The timeline for repeats is often shorter than that which is required for a clean colon.
During a colonoscopy, a scope (a long and thin tube consisting of a camera) is used to view the inside of your colon and rectum. This scope gives the doctor (gastroenterologist) clear access to check for polyps and possible colon cancer.
If polyps are present in your colon, they will be removed. The entire procedure is carried out under sedation, you won’t feel any discomfort.
What Next After Colonoscopy?
Once the examination is over, you might feel a little tired or drowsy from the anaesthesia. This is where you need someone to take you home.
For the next 24 hours, you must have a friend or a family person to assist you until you feel like your regular self. You should be okay after 24 hours. Your doctor’s office will let you know when your test result is out.
Early Detection Of Colon Cancer At Avon Medical
Avon Medical is a leading multispecialty healthcare provider based in Lagos, Nigeria. If you’re above 40 years, you must get screened for colon cancer soon.
Take advantage of our pool of experienced gastroenterologists and book a session today.
Colorectal cancer is treatable. You should see a doctor if you experience:
- A change in bowel habits that lasts more than 3 weeks
- Rectal bleeding or blood in stool
- Unexplained weakness or weight loss
- Bloating or constant cramps