Understanding Colonoscopy

6/29/13 || Dr. Dale Prokupek Hello friends, current patients and prospective patients:

Colon cancer ranked as the second leading cause of death in the US. This has been a threat not only to Americans but even to other races around the globe. In fact, it has been touted to cause death to more than 50,000 American before the year ends. Unlike other forms of illness; this is often detected by the individual once the disease has progressed to a critical stage. This can also be the reason why many people end up with unmanageable condition once they get to know that they have such illness. And just like other types of cancer, colon cancer is untreatable. But early detection gives better chances of survival. That is why some people submit to colonoscopy procedure to verify if they have the illness.

What is Colonoscopy and What Benefit Does It Offer?

Colonoscopy is the modern breakthrough of medical science that allows doctors to view the inside linings of your colon. This way, they are able to check if there are polyps or abnormal tissue growth on the intestinal linings which may lead to colon cancer if left unmanaged. A flexible tube called colonoscope is inserted to your bowels to visualize the insides of your colon and rectum. Anesthetics are also provided to alleviate the discomfort that this procedure may bring. Aside from visualizing abnormal tissues, doctors can also excise unusual tissue growth found. They will send it for biopsy to verify if it is cancerous or not. This way, possible development of colon cancer can be stopped before it even starts.

Why Many People Choose Not to Submit for Colonoscopy

The main reason why some people refuse to undergo colonoscopy is because of the thought of being embarrassed during the procedure. Thinking about someone inserting a tube to your bowels can be scary and very uncomfortable. But more than that, the 2 days preparation for the procedure is even more daunting. You will need to take clear liquid diet and laxative during this period to cleanse your bowel and make it more visible while colonoscopy is being done. This alone makes the procedure less desirable. However, some people would rather go through this process rather than suffer the ill effects of colon cancer later on.

When is the Best Time to Have Colonoscopy?

Medical practitioners often suggest that an individual submit for colonoscopy at regular intervals once the person reaches 50 years old. However, you do not need to wait for that age if you are experiencing early symptoms of colon cancer. This can be as simple as unusual bowel movement or blood on stool. If you have a family history of colon cancer, then you have more reason to submit for this procedure.

Is There Any Substitute for Colonoscopy?

The good news is; a new research is being conducted wherein blood samples can be used as early detection of colon cancer. This means that you can save yourself from the embarrassment of undergoing colonoscopy or submitting sample for a stool exam. A blood test may allow medical practitioners to detect deviations in SD2 gene; which is touted to be a biomarker for colon cancer. However, unless this blood test for early colon cancer is medically accepted, you need to content yourself with what stool exam and colonoscopy procedure have to offer.

-- Dr. Dale