The Power of Prevention – How Colonoscopy Can Save Lives

Modern medicine has seen many great advances in treatments and cures. However, the most effective way to protect against disease is through prevention. Past studies suggest that colonoscopy reduces the risk of colorectal cancer death by 29 to 88 percent. 


A colonoscopy involves a health care provider passing a long, flexible tube with a camera (a colonoscope) down through the anus and into the rectum and large intestine. During the procedure, doctors may insert the colonoscope into polyps and other abnormal growths to look at them for signs of cancer or other diseases. When necessary, they may remove polyps or other changes or control bleeding in the colon using various methods, including injection of medications, heat treatment or sealing off bleeding vessels. Several studies have shown that screening with colonoscopies for colorectal cancer significantly reduces the number of people who die from this disease. Screening is recommended for everyone ages 50-75 with no family history of the disease and those at increased risk because of a personal or family history of other factors such as inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn’s disease, smoking or past radiation treatments to the abdomen area.


A colonoscopy is a painless, routine procedure that involves putting a scope into the colon and looking for and cutting out precancerous growths (called polyps) that may eventually become cancer. Studies have shown that when these are removed, it greatly reduces the risk of colon cancer. A recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine looked at 84,585 people ages 55 to 64 in Poland, Norway and Sweden who had never had a colonoscopy. They were randomly assigned to either be invited for a screening colonoscopy or continue with their usual care. They were followed for years, and the number of colorectal cancer cases and deaths was compared between groups.


Your colonoscopy Denver doctor will do this test by inserting a colonoscope, a lengthy, flexible tube with a camera on the end, into the rectum and advancing it into the large intestine. The camera displays the lining of your colon on a screen so doctors can examine for polyps, signs of cancer or other abnormalities. They can also remove and send tissue samples (biopsies) for testing.

Colonoscopies can detect early inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis, which can cause inflammation, pain, malnourishment and intestinal blockages. These diseases may also increase your risk of colon cancer. A fecal immunochemical test (FIT) is a simple at-home screening method that tests for hidden blood in the stool. If this test is positive, your doctor will likely refer you for a colonoscopy or an esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD).


While some patients may hesitate to undergo the invasive exam, many success stories exist. Gupta has seen colonoscopies remove large precancerous polyps that would have become cancer and prevented early disease progression. The colon is part of the gastrointestinal tract, including the stomach and small intestine. It digests the unused portions of food you consume and helps your body eliminate waste. It produces short-chain fatty acids, which help your digestive system break down the food you eat. It also reabsorbs liquid and releases it through the feces.

A lot of research has shown that a colonoscopy can save lives. 

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