Tag Archives: cancer screening

Better colonoscopy prep in the works

Image result for colonoscopy

Colonoscopy is by far the best way to detect and prevent digestive issues such as colon cancer.

Oh, the colonoscopy. Although it’s the most effective way to detect and thereby prevent colon cancer and other digestive issues, some people are still reluctant to commit to the procedure. Ask just about anyone who’s endured the quick and painless process, and they’ll tell you that the prep is the most difficult part.

Reports the Chicago Tribune: “Data suggest that about 40 percent of the people who should get a colonoscopy don’t, mostly because of the prep,” says Douglas Rex, a distinguished professor of medicine at Indiana University School of Medicine.

A typical colonoscopy involves drinking lots and lots of not-so-tasty liquids followed by lots and lots of trips to the toilet. Nothing is going to change in the toilet department, but the liquids are getting a face lift.

Researchers are experimenting with flavored shakes and bars such as strawberry banana or coconut that have the same effect as the historically dreaded liquid.

“Those drinking the new products were twice as likely as those who used the standard prep solution to be satisfied and four times as likely to recommend it,” says the Tribune.

The products should be available to patients in about two years.

The entire goal of these new prep methods is to get more people to commit to a colonoscopy, as it’s undoubtedly the number one way to detect and prevent cancer, tumors, polyps and other intestinal abnormalities.

“The easier you make it for people, the more you can improve their adherence,” says Susan Czajkowski, chief of the health behaviors research branch of the National Cancer Institute.

“The perfect screen has no value if it isn’t used.”

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Is there a new alternative to a colonoscopy?

The dreaded colonoscopy has always been viewed as the only way to screen for colon cancer. But the new screening option announced this year has caused quite a stir. Is it possible that colonoscopies are on their way out?

colonoscopy-easy-painless

A colonoscopy is a necessary procedure for early detection of colon cancer.

Dr. M. Emin Donat, MD FRCPC and member of the American College of Gastroenterology and the American Gastroenterology Association, talked us through what a colonoscopy is and how the new procedure compares.

How a colonoscopy works

“A colonoscopy is a procedure where your GI doctor looks in your large intestine with a flexible scope,” says Dr. Donat. “This is done to look for polyps or other diseases that affect the colon.”

Although it sounds a bit unpleasant, patients are sedated and the procedure is painless. For a lot of folks, the preparation is the worst part.

“The prep involves only drinking clear liquids and avoiding solid foods the day before the procedure,” says Dr. Donat. “Patients then drink a laxative solution to clear out the colon completely.”

So the grunt work is done the day before, where you should probably stay home and close to the bathroom.

Anyone with intestinal or bowel problems can undergo a colonoscopy, but “everyone should have a colonoscopy at age 50 to look for polyps,” says Dr. Donat.

How the new option works

With capsule endoscopy, you swallow a pill-shaped capsule with a tiny camera inside. The pill works its way through your digestive system, taking thousands of photos as it moves along.

Sounds like the perfect, less-invasive alternative to colonoscopies, right?

Well, there are a couple of road bumps to conquer before bidding farewell the colonoscopy. First, the success rate of colonoscopies in catching polyps and other abnormalities is tough to beat: 98%.

Second, “if the camera does pick up on something,” says the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, “the patient must then come back anyway for a colonoscopy and biopsy to have the growth…removed.”

Additionally, your doctor can’t directly handle a where the camera goes or how long it spends in a problem area during a capsule endoscopy. But during a colonoscopy, if your doctor sees something suspicious, they can take extra time on and photos of that area.

Your best options

As always, you and your doctor can decide which route is best for you. For now, Dr. Donat still suggests that everyone 50 and older should have a colonoscopy. He reminds us that “colonoscopies are easy, painless and can save your life.”

And most importantly, “Don’t put it off until you have symptoms because it may be too late by then.”

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