Why Get a Colonoscopy?


hColorectal cancer remains the second leading cancer killer in the U.S and is prevalent in all racial and ethnic groups.  The numbers behind colorectal cancer are daunting:

  • Overall lifetime risk of developing colorectal cancer is 1 in 20, according to the American Cancer Society.
  • Roughly 50,000 cases of colorectal cancer prove fatal each year.
  • About 97,000 new cases of colon cancer and 40,000 new cases of colorectal cancer are diagnosed each year.

Despite these sobering statistics, however, there is good news: the past two decades have seen a slow decrease in deaths from colorectal cancer.  This lessening in colorectal cancer deaths is due to one factor: Colonoscopies are saving lives.

A colonoscopy is the “gold standard” to screen for colon and colorectal cancer. A colonoscopy uses a colonoscope (a small flexible tube with a lighted camera at the end) to allow a doctor to view the lining of the colon. The entire procedure, which takes only 15-20 minutes, is straightforward and produces little discomfort since the patient is sedated. During the colonoscopy, your gastroenterologist will look for signs of abnormal tissue growth, such as precancerous polyps. If you are at risk for developing colorectal cancer, your doctor may also take a biopsy (tissue sample) for further testing.

Starting at age 50, both men and women should receive a colonoscopy screening every ten years, although those with a family history of colon issues should alert their doctor for a possible decision about earlier screening or screenings at shorter intervals.

When discovered early, colorectal cancer is often successfully treated. Being aware of your body and any changes that occur can help you be vigilant against possible symptoms.  For instance, your doctor may suggest a colonoscopy before the age of 50 if any of the following symptoms are present: consistent and unending abdominal pain, bloody stool, changes in bowel movements (diarrhea/constipation, etc.), general fatigue and unintended weight loss.

We invite our patients to take control of their future health by contacting us to schedule a colonoscopy appointment with San Francisco Gastroenterology today.

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