It’s important to understand what a colonoscopy is meant for even if it’s not something you’re looking forward to.
A colonoscopy is a screening exam for colorectal cancer. It is one of the most reliable ways to detect cancer in its early states. During the procedure, your doctor examines your entire colon and rectum.
Screening for Colorectal Cancer
Colorectal cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer in men and women in the United States. It’s estimated that only half of people have colorectal cancer screenings when they should and only 4 out of 10 colorectal cancers are found early.
Benefits of a Colonoscopy
One of the biggest benefits of a colonoscopy is that in addition to diagnosing cancer, anything suspicious such as abnormal tissue can be biopsied or removed during the procedure.
Abnormal tissue can include any of the following:
- Polyps: Polyps are a small clump of cells that can form in the lining of the colon or rectum. They are benign and non-cancerous but can develop into cancer depending on the kind of polyp it is.
- Ulcers: Rectal ulcers are sores in the lining or the digestive tract.
- Lesions: Lesions are areas of abnormal tissue that can either be benign or malignant and can include a tumor.
- Tumors: Tumors are an abnormal growth of cells that form a mass. A tumor can either be benign or cancerous, which is called colorectal cancer when it is found in the colon or rectum.
Screening for Other Digestive Issues
Not only does a colonoscopy screen for colorectal cancer, it can also check for the causes of digestive symptoms including diarrhea, unexplained weight loss, or inflammatory bowel disease.
It is typically recommended that everyone over the age of 50 have a colonoscopy once every 10 years.
Talk to one of our Gastroenterologists in Downers Grove or Hinsdale
Talk with one of our digestive health experts about when you should have a colonoscopy, especially if you have risk factors that would require you to schedule it earlier than normal. You can schedule your appointment by calling (630) 434-9312.