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Colonoscopy: The Best Screening Method for Detecting and Preventing Colon Cancer

Rachel Morrell

Colonoscopy: The Best Screening Method for Detecting and Preventing Colon Cancer

There are many methods of testing for colon cancer, so how do you choose which is best for you? Do you go by price? Ease of the testing method? Shortest time commitment?

If you go by any of the criteria above, you would forego the most thorough and comprehensive colon screening. Flexible sigmoidoscopy, virtual colonoscopy, double contrast barium enema and fecal occult blood test are generally less expensive, less invasive and require less time than the colonoscopy, but they cannot compare to a colonoscopy in their ability to prevent, diagnose and treat colon polyps, lesions and abnormalities.

A colonoscopy is the only type of exam which:

  1. Examines the lining of the entire colon with a scope. Virtual colonoscopy, for example, only scopes the lower portion of the colon, and the other screening methods do not utilize a scope at all. Using the lit colonoscope, your doctor can thoroughly examine your entire colon wall to detect any abnormality.
  2. Can remove polyps during the screening. All other methods of screening are not able to remove colon polyps. A colonoscopy can remove precancerous polyps so they will never become cancerous, making it the only screening method that actually prevents colon cancer.
  3. Does not require a follow-up screening. A positive result from the other types of colon screenings require a follow-up colonoscopy, so isn’t it more efficient to just schedule the Big Daddy of all tests? Make certain that you follow the prep guidelines exactly, because an incomplete bowel cleanse could require a second procedure.

It is estimated that between 60 to 90 percent of colon cancer deaths could be prevented if every American man and woman over the age of 50 chose to have a colonoscopy. Let’s put some numbers behind these percentages. This means that 30,000 to 45,000 lives could be saved every year. That’s a lot of precious moms, dads, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles and friends. While a colonoscopy may not be your preferred way to spend your day, just remember that a clear colonoscopy means that you most likely will not have to schedule another procedure for another ten years!

Do your part to help prevent colon cancer. Talk to your doctor about when you should have your first (or next) colonoscopy. If you are not yet at the age where you need to be thinking about your baseline colonoscopy, ask a family member or loved one if he or she needs to schedule a colonoscopy. You can offer to schedule the procedure and even provide transportation to and from the appointment. Together, we can make a difference!

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