A health screening is a valuable way to detect changes in one’s health. A valuable component of preventative medicine is the colonoscopy. This test means looking inside in the colon which is the large intestine and is the last section of the digestive system. A common disease that occurs in the colon is colorectal cancer which begins as a polyp and then progresses to a cancerous tumor.
Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer in the U.S. when incidences of men and women are combined. It can take as many as 10 to 15 years for a polyp to develop into cancer, so early detection can prevent this form of cancer from developing by finding and removing the polyp.
During a colonoscopy a gastroenterologist inserts a long, thin flexible tube via the rectum. The tube has a camera on its tip which allows the specialist to see the inside lining of the colon. The test can take from 5 to 30 minutes depending upon the condition of the colon.
To prepare for the test, the patient will usually take a laxative 12 hours prior to the examination to clean the colon. During the test the patient is either partially or fully sedated. Afterwards the patient will rest in a recovery area until the effects of the medication have worn off. At this point the doctor will review the results.
The procedure does have risks including colon perforation, hemorrhaging if a polyp is removed, and allergic reactions to the sedation medicine. However, the risks are considered low and the value of the screening is very high. Many international hospitals have health screening departments and provide this test. Consult your physician to determine if this test is necessary for your health.
This video from Bumrungrad International Hospital in Bangkok, Thailand, gives a full overview of the colonoscopy procedure.