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Colonoscopy Still Reigns as Best Test for Colon Cancer


The colonoscopy is the gold standard when it comes to colon cancer screening. Even though there are many other less invasive methods to help detect cancerous cells in the lining of the colon, the colonoscopy is the most comprehensive examination available.

A colonoscopy is one of the only cancer screenings that actually prevents cancer. This procedure allows your doctor to view the lining of your entire colon using a colonoscope, a lit tube with a camera attached. With the help of a sedative, you will be completely relaxed as your colon is examined for abnormalities called polyps. If any polyps are discovered during the colonoscopy, they can be removed for biopsy and diagnosis.  Most colon polyps are benign, and removing the polyps actually prevents these precancerous masses from mutating into cancerous masses in the future.

Other colon cancer screenings like the virtual colonoscopy, flexible sigmoidoscopy, fecal occult blood test and double contrast barium enema are available as well. These screenings can be useful in helping to detect colorectal cancer in average-risk individuals, and they seem to be less costly and less invasive.  However, if any of these tests come back as positive or inconclusive, the patient will most likely have to get a colonoscopy. After all is said and done, it is more invasive and costly to have two colon procedures instead of one comprehensive procedure.

It is true that colonoscopies have quite a stigma. Two common complaints about the colonoscopy are the bowel preparation and the invasiveness of the procedure, and these factors deter many patients from choosing a colonoscopy.  It is estimated that 60 to 90 percent of cancer deaths could be prevented if everyone over 50 chose to have a colonoscopy, but unfortunately, this is not the case. Thomas Imperiale, MD, of Indiana University School of Medicine, Regenstrief Institute, Indianapolis, IN, points out, “Thirty five percent of people who are screen-eligible choose not to be screened, by and large because they equate colon cancer screening with colonoscopy” (Source: Cancer Therapy Advisor).

The answer to this general aversion to colonoscopy is not a less invasive test because this often ends up being ineffectual and more expensive. The real solution is in education. Many men and women do not know that the new split dose prep is much more manageable and palatable than previous bowel prep formulas. Others are hesitant to get screened because they do not know what to expect during a colonoscopy. Most individuals are thankful to have a colonoscopy after they realize that:

  • the prep is not that bad
  • they will be mostly asleep during the procedure
  • a colonoscopy is much less expensive now due to the Affordable Care Act. has many helpful resources to put you in the know when it comes to scheduling the most comprehensive colon cancer screening available. We have resources that cover colonoscopy cost, FAQs, how to prepare for a colonoscopy and a blog that gives colon healthy recipes and wellness tips. We even have a page of resources like funny videos, posters and Colonoscopy for Dummies. We look forward to helping you from start to finish so you can choose a colonoscopy with confidence!

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posted on October 7, 2015 in news