A Scope for a Life

People usually frown upon the idea of receiving a colonoscopy. They are only concerned about the unpleasant preparation that needs to be consumed in order to ensure maximum accuracy during the procedure. What they are unaware of are the inconceivable health benefits that come by undergoing just one colonoscopy procedure. The masses are not aware that roughly 140,000 Americans will be diagnosed with colon cancer and about 50,000 of those diagnosed will die because they did not receive prior screening. Colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in men and woman combined in the United States. Colon cancer begins with a small colonic polyp, which is a type of abnormal growth that is found on the inner walls of the colon. Polyps are harmless at first but eventually turn into carcinomas, cancers of epithelial tissue, if not removed.

Colon cancer is a very slow growing cancer, which is the reason why it can be easily prevented. The guidelines set by the “U.S. Preventive Services Task Force”(USPSTF) state that a person, with no family history of colon cancer, personal history of cancer of the colon, rectum, ovary, endometrium, or breast, or history of ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease, should be screened at the age of 50; however, there is a strong possibility that the age minimum will be dropped to 45 or even 40 because of a recent increase in cases of colon cancer found in people between the ages of 40 and 50. People tend to only visit a doctor after they have experienced certain symptoms for “x” amount of time. Unfortunately, early stages of colon cancer do not exhibit any symptoms, so it is important to get checked if any of the following symptoms persist: Blood in the stool, unexplained weight loss, abdominal pain, or unexplained fatigue.

It is unfortunate that so many people have to suffer and die as a result of this condition because a simple colonoscopy procedure can prevent one from developing this aggressive illness! The procedure alone takes approximately 10 minutes and is normally done under a carefully administered dosage of propofol, which is significantly safer than using general anesthesia. Typically performed by a gastroenterologist, a scope with a camera at the end is inserted through the rectum and into the colon. The gastroenterologist searches for polyps so that he may remove them using an instrument built into the scope that is operated by his assistant. Depending on how many polyps are found, the doctor would recommend the patient to return for a repeat colonoscopy anywhere between 1-5 years. If only people focused more on the pros as opposed to the cons that come with getting a colonoscopy, we could eventually bring down the colon cancer death rate… to zero.

Written By: Daniel Shoykhet


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