A Few Things You Might Have Always Wanted To Know About A Colonoscopy
Bowel cancer is one of the most common cancers that Australians suffer from, and the best way to effectively screen for this form of cancer is with a colonoscopy. This procedure can be unpleasant, as can the preparation, which altogether makes a colonoscopy quite low on people’s priority list. This can be harmful if it goes on for too long, so in this article we take a look at a few things you may have wondered about colonoscopies to help give you a better idea of what they’re all about – particularly if they’re things you’re too afraid to ask the doctor performing the colonoscopy!
A look at the procedure and other options
A colonoscopy is the most effective screening test for bowel cancer as it offers a complete view of the colon, which allows your colonoscopist a much easier way to find instances of cancer that might have developed, or are at least in the early stages of development. The doctor will then perform a biopsy (take a tissue sample) of any abnormal tissue found while they are examining your colon. Although many people might dismiss a colonoscopy in favour of a faecal test, this is not the best solution – while faecal tests can be useful for finding blood through a doctor examining traces of blood in the stool, they obviously can’t offer the same insight into cancerous tissue that might be developing. In short, colonoscopies might be more invasive, but they’re worth it for the accuracy. It might also be the case that people are scared of the risks associated with a colonoscopy, but there’s generally no need to worry – colonoscopies carry the same amount of risk as many other invasive procedures, and it is rare that any issues that develop become life-threatening.
What you should know about preparation
The preparation for a colonoscopy is something else that people are often uncertain about, often due to hearing horror stories from friends or reading about them on the internet. There is some prep involved, with this largely related to clearing out the colon in order to make it clear for viewing by the doctor. The prep stage will usually involve the patient going on a liquid diet in the days before the procedure, with strong laxatives used in the day prior. This might necessitate you taking a little bit of time off of work after the procedure if you’re not feeling well, but otherwise you should be completely fine to start the laxative procedure on the night before your appointment (although it is important that you organise for someone to drive you home afterwards due to the medication).
It isn’t as scary as you might think!
Bowel cancer isn’t just something that happens to older people – the risk increases for people over the age of 50, and those with a family history of bowel cancer can develop it before this. If you’re putting off a check-up because you’re nervous, there’s no need at all – the doctor will give you medication during the procedure to help you relax and also relieve any discomfort that might occur. With this in mind, there shouldn’t be too much standing in the way between you and your long-term health!