The risk of developing colon cancer, one of our most commonly diagnosed
cancers, can be reduced with the right screening, yet many Americans
don't undergo the evaluation.
Getting a colonoscopy usually requires light anesthesia. Using a
colonoscope, the physician can inspect the lower part of the intestinal
tract, where small amounts of aberrant tissue can grow unnoticed,
sometimes degenerating into cancer. By finding these polyps and removing
them, doctors can stop the process leading to colon cancer.
Another screening option is com-puted tomographic colonography (or
"virtual colonoscopy"). By having a person complete a prep similar to
that used for a standard (or optical) colonoscopy, a radiologist can
create images of the colon, evaluating it the same way a gastrointestinal
specialist would using a scope. A recent "New England Journal of
Medicine" study suggests virtual colonoscopy is an effective way to find
large polyps. It's less expensive and doesn't require sedation. But it's
only a diagnostic tool. If an abnormality is found, you'll need a
standard colonoscopy to treat it.
Your risk of getting colon cancer can be cut sharply if you get screened.
When it comes to colon cancer, ignorance is definitely not bliss.
From the Texas Tech Health Sciences Center, I'm Dr. Tedd Mitchell, and this is the President's Prescription.
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