The Importance of Regular Colonoscopy

Colorectal cancer is the third-leading cause of cancer-related deaths. It is preventable and treatable when diagnosed early, and regular colon screenings are critical to prevention. A doctor uses a special colonoscopy camera to examine your large intestine (colon and rectum). The procedure is painless, and doctors use a sedative so you are relaxed and asleep during the exam.

Prevents Colon Cancer

Colon cancer is a deadly disease, but it can be prevented. Regular screening tests like colonoscopies can help your doctor spot precancerous polyps and remove them before they become cancer. Studies have shown that this preventative measure can cut your risk of colorectal cancer by 75%. Your doctor can perform a colonoscopy Denver or a flexible sigmoidoscopy to search your rectum and colon for growths, abnormal tissue areas, and cancer. The procedure is performed while sedating you so you don’t feel anything. The recommended age for people at average risk for colon cancer to start getting a colonoscopy is 45. This is lower than the previous recommendation of 50 since the rate of colorectal cancer in younger adults has been increasing. Your gastroenterologist can let you know whether or when it’s time to have your screening. Those with a family history of colon cancer or a hereditary condition like familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) should consider getting screened much earlier.

Detects Colon Diseases

During a colonoscopy, your large intestine and rectum are inspected by a doctor with the help of a long flexible tube called a colonoscope. During this procedure, polyps can be detected and removed if needed. Polyps often form along the lining of your colon and can become cancerous if left untreated. The system can also see pouches that develop along the colon wall (diverticulosis). Colonoscopies are more effective than other screening methods, like double-contrast barium enema and flexible sigmoidoscopy, in detecting and removing abnormal growths. They also provide an opportunity to investigate symptoms such as abdominal pain and rectal bleeding. In addition to detecting polyps, colonoscopies can help find and treat inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis. These inflammatory conditions can lead to abdominal pain, rectal bleeding, and intestinal blockages that require surgery. Identifying and treating these problems early helps reduce their long-term effects, including malnourishment and pain. This may also lower your risk of colorectal cancer, according to the National Cancer Institute.

Detects Colon Polyps

A colonoscopy can spot precancerous polyps that can grow into cancer. The ability to detect and remove these polyps prevents colorectal cancer, which can lead to death in many cases. Polyps often cause no symptoms, but a colonoscopy allows doctors to see the entire rectum and colon and identify abnormal growth. During a screening colonoscopy, your doctor inserts a short, thin, flexible, lighted tube into the rectum and colon to look for signs of polyps or cancer. They also can remove polyps during a colonoscopy if necessary. If your doctor finds precancerous polyps during a colonoscopy, they may recommend more frequent future screenings. Your GI doctor can adjust the frequency of these screenings depending on your unique risk factors. A colonoscopy can also help find internal hemorrhoids, small outpouchings of blood-filled tissue around the anus. These symptoms can include itching, swelling, or pain when you poop.

Detects Inflammatory Bowel Disease

During a colonoscopy, your doctor inserts the scope into your rectum. Then, they move it through the large intestine, checking for abnormal tissue and removing polyps. A colonoscopy is a safe outpatient procedure. You’ll take a sedative before the process to help you relax and fall asleep. You’ll have to adjust your diet for a few days before the procedure, and on the day of the exam, you’ll need to drink a laxative formula to empty your bowels. However, the discomfort is usually mild. The benefits far outweigh any discomfort. Your colon does a lot for you, and keeping it healthy is an excellent way to prevent disease and maintain optimal health.