In a recent study examining the effectiveness of colonoscopy versus flexible sigmoidoscopy in older patients, the colonoscopy, which has long been considered the gold standard for colon cancer screening, came out on top.
Like colonoscopy, flexible sigmoidoscopy examines the lining of the colon for abnormalities by inserting a flexible tube with a camera attached into the rectum and through the colon. If any abnormal growths are found, doctors can remove them before they pose a serious health threat. However, because the tube is shorter than the colonoscope used during colonoscopy, a sigmoidoscopy is only able to examine the first half of the colon, also known as the “left side” because of its location in the body.
Because sigmoidoscopy does not examine the entire colon, it may not require the extensive bowel preparation process that colonoscopies do, making the procedure less intimidating to some patients. Sigmoidoscopy usually takes less time than colonoscopy and is less expensive, but when it comes to preventing colon cancer, the added time, preparation, and money are worth it.
In the new study, lead researcher Dr. Yize Richard Wang from the Mayo Clinic examined patients age 67 or older who underwent either colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy and were diagnosed with colon cancer within three years of their procedure. Among sigmoidoscopy patients, 12 percent had cancerous growths on the left side of the colon that were either missed during their sigmoidoscopy or had developed since the procedure. However, among colonoscopy patients, only 4 percent had new or missed left-sided colon cancers.
A colonoscopy may not be anyone’s idea of fun, but according to this study and others of its kind, it is the more successful method of preventing colon cancer. If you’re 50 or older, don’t put off your screening any longer. Schedule a colonoscopy today!posted on February 18, 2013 in news