Colonoscopy: Colon Cancer Myths and Facts

Colonoscopy: Colon Cancer Myths and Facts

What is colonoscopy?

Colonoscopy is a test done to visualize the inner lining of the large intestine (rectum and colon). It involves the doctor examining the colon by using a thin flexible tube called a colonoscope. This procedure is effective as it helps find ulcers, tumors, inflamed or bleeding sites and colon polyps.

During the colonoscopy test, any abnormal growth or tissues are taken out and sent for biopsy. This test is also used as a screening test to check for cancer or for any pre-malignant growths in the rectum or colon. It is an important test that is done to check for colon cancer.

Colonoscopy procedure is a very simple yet useful test. It helps detect colorectal cancer and various other complications in the rectum. Diagnosis of colonic cancers at an early stage facilitates immediate treatment. What people don’t realize is colon cancer is actually curable in 90% of cases if detected early.

People are usually apprehensive about this procedure, as it seems to be too invasive. Remember that a few minutes of discomfort can actually save your life. Some of these common myths include:

Myths and Facts about Colonoscopy

Myth 1: Colonoscopy procedure is very painful.

Facts: That isn’t true. Before a colonoscopy test is conducted you are usually administered a light sedative or pain medication. This helps you relax and eases any discomfort you might feel during the procedure.

Myth 2: I have perfect bowel movement and don’t have any symptoms of colon cancer, thus I don’t need a colonoscopy.

Facts: This is the biggest misconception people have. Remember that colorectal cancer is a silent killer. There are no definitive symptoms of colon cancer and even if it occurs the cancer is usually in its advanced stages. Conducting colonoscopy help in early detection of cancer or precancerous growths. Symptoms could be blood in stools, abdominal pain, and change in bowel habits or diarrhea

Myth 3: If colorectal cancer is detected, it cannot be cured.

Facts: Colon cancer if diagnosed at an early stage is highly treatable and curable. Chances of survival are as high as 90 percent if diagnosed and treated early. With periodic colonoscopy procedure colorectal cancer is preventable.

Myth 4: Only men are affected by colon cancer.

Facts: Both men and women are at equal risk of being diagnosed with colorectal cancer. This form of cancer is the sixth common cause of cancer deaths in India.

Myth 5: Colonoscopy can lead to internal damage and is unsafe.

Facts: Only experienced physicians, oncologists, and doctors who specialize in this procedure can conduct it. Thus occurrence of any complication from colonoscopy is very low. Remember that risks and complications are associated with any medical test and colonoscopy is no exception.

Myth 6: Colonoscopy is a lengthy procedure that takes hours.

Facts: Colonoscopy is done as an outpatient procedure. The colon has to be clear to be able to visualize clearly. A laxative is given the previous night. The procedure takes 15- 30 minutes

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