Colonoscopy is a test use to examine the lining of large bowel or colon. The instrument has a light source, and a lens attached to a video monitor. The test is used for colon cancer screening and for diagnosis of various other diseases involving the colon in patients who may have bowel symptoms like bleeding or diarrhea.
Is the test as bad as it sounds? The answer is no. Fears and misconceptions persist:
- “Will I be able to drink the prep?"
- It may hurt."
- "Complication may occur.”
- “I am not the one who will get colon cancer.”
The fact is, colonoscopy is one of the safest procedures performed by a gastroenterologist.
Each year, 150,000 new cases of colon cancer are diagnosed and 50,000 people die from it. 60% of these lives can be saved by increasing awareness for screening of colon cancer. Colonoscopy not only helps detect precancerous growths called polyps but also gives the ability to remove them there and then. This prevents colon cancer in future.
Colonoscopy may be inconvenient but it’s not painful. It takes less than 45 minutes and you are sedated during this time. Colon prep these days are split into two halves, first half is taken the night before the procedure and the other half in the morning of the procedure, making it tolerable. In fact, lower volume prep solutions are also available these days.
Chances of someone having colon cancer over their lifetime is 1 in 20 which is high. This can be prevented by timely screening. Bottom line is, do not skip out on screening. Although colonoscopy is one of the most accurate test for colon cancer screening, there are other stool based tests which you may qualify for. So, talk to your doctor and get screened today.