The Life-Saving Benefits of Colonoscopy Screening

amanda_mcclure_2015_webNational Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month is a great time to talk about one of the most preventable and treatable forms of cancer, if diagnosed early. It may seem intimidating, but a colonoscopy is a very simple test and a big reason why there are more than one million colon cancer survivors in the United States.

A colonoscopy test is a visual examination of the large intestine (colon) using a lighted, flexible video colonoscope. The scope also has a camera to help the physician document findings and notable features.

A colonoscopy is more than just a test. If a polyp is found, it can usually be removed during the exam, thereby eliminating the need for a major operation and potentially preventing the development of cancer. If a bleeding site is identified, treatment can be administered to stop the bleeding. Other treatments can be given through the colonoscope when necessary and further studies or treatments may be recommended.

A colonoscopy can also be used in the diagnosis, treatment or prevention of other issues, such as:

  • Abdominal pain, discomfort or change in bowel habits
  • Chronic diarrhea or constipation
  • Colitis (Ulcerative or Crohn’s)
  • Diverticulosis and Diverticulitis

Alternative tests to a colonoscopy include a barium enema or other types of X-ray exams that outline the colon and allow a diagnosis to be made. In addition, study of the stool and blood can provide indirect information about a colon condition. These exams, however, do not allow direct viewing of the colon or removal of polyps or biopsies to be done.

If you’re at risk for colon cancer because of age, medical history or family history, talk to your doctor. They can help you determine which test is right for you.

About Dr. McClure

Amanda M. McClure, MD, is a board-certified general and colorectal surgeon with IHA Colon & Rectal Surgery. Dr. McClure specializes in robotic and laparoscopic surgery, as well as minimally invasive transanal procedures. She has clinical interests in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of colorectal cancer. To learn more, visit www.ihacares.com.

3 thoughts on “The Life-Saving Benefits of Colonoscopy Screening”

  1. My father is getting older. He has a history of cancer in his family, so my family and I have been telling him it’s time for a colonoscopy. I didn’t realize that polyps can actually be removed if they are found during the screening, and that this can potentially prevent the formation of cancer. I’ll be sure to let my father know about this added benefit.

  2. I didn’t know that a polyp could be removed during a colonoscopy exam. I think that this would be a great way of saving time and money because you won’t have to do a return visit or worry about a surgery. Talking to friends and family to locate a service that provides this kind of medical care would be a good idea in finding one that you would be comfortable working with.
    http://www.lincolnsurgicalgroup.com/colorectal-expertise

  3. It’s interesting how you point out that if a polyp is found during a colonoscopy that it can usually be removed during the procedure, eliminating the need for a major operation later down the road. My family has a history of colon cancer, so I know I should start getting colonoscopies early in life. Reading this was a great reminder to do that, so I appreciate the information. It is definitely worth having the minor procedure to be aware of any health issues in your body.

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