More Patients Need Colonoscopy Procedure

Contrary to what most people believe, that the colonoscopy procedure is thoroughly unpleasant, may not be completely true. According to Dr. H. Hill Hinkel of the Gastroenterology Clinic in Monroe, the only uncomfortable part of a colonoscopy procedure is the bowel preparation. Patients are placed under sedation during the actually test and will most likely not even remember the colonoscopy procedure.

But still, so many patients dread the thought of undergoing colon cancer screening. This notion is shared by those who are considered to be at high risk of colon cancer, even though the colonoscopy procedure is one of the only ways that they can be sure to prevent the disease. Among others who are likely to develop colon cancer are cigarette smokers and people who eat too much red meat.

It’s the end of National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month now, but efforts to increase the amount of patients who get screened for colon cancer with the colonoscopy procedure are still going strong.  The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported that 60% of colon cancer deaths are a result of failure to prevent the disease from spreading with colonoscopies. An estimated 50,000 people die from this deadly cancer every year. So why aren’t more people getting help?

It is recommended that every American aged 50 and older screen for colon cancer with the colonoscopy procedure every 10 years, at least.  There are situations when screening should be conducted earlier and more frequently, such as when symptoms are detected during a routine colonoscopy. In addition, those who have a family history of colorectal cancer should undergo the colonoscopy procedure at an earlier age to ensure early detection because they are at higher risk.

Hinkel noted that some individuals do not like to undergo the colonoscopy procedure even when their health insurance covers the cost of screening.  He stressed the importance of taking advantage of screening when because it’s available. Because of new technologies used during the colonoscopy procedure, polyps and other abnormalities can now be better detected, increasing chances for early removal, before colon cancer develops in the first place.

Preparation for the colonoscopy procedure, often cited as the worst part of the process, consists of keeping to a liquid diet and drinking a large amount of laxatives in order to induce heavy bowel movement.  The goal is to empty the colon completely so that a clear view is accessible by the gastroenterologist.

During the colonoscopy procedure, a flexible tube is inserted through the rectum and moved through the bowels. A small camera located at the tip of the tube lets the doctor see inside the colon via a digital monitor.  If polyps are detected along the colon wall, a sample is taken right away and tested for cancer cells.  Overall, the colonoscopy procedure is the best way to diagnose colon cancer and to detect and remove polyps and tumors in the large intestine. Other less invasive methods like CT colongraphies can only detect but not remove those abnormalities. Also, CT colonography often misses flat polyps found on the right side of the colon, added Dr. Hinkel.