Once you’ve made the choice to get a colonoscopy, you may think you’ve done your part to prevent colon cancer and leave the rest up to the physician performing the procedure. But patients must do more than make a decision to ensure a successful colonoscopy; closely following the preparation process to cleanse the colon is just as important.
A new Canadian study, published in The American Journal of Gastroenterology, found that doctors may miss close to eight percent of colon cancers during a colonoscopy, or one in 13 cancers. One explanation for this may be impaired visibility during the procedure because the patient’s colon was not thoroughly cleansed. To improve colon cancer detection rates, lead researcher Dr. Harminder Singh said it is imperative for colonoscopy patients to “strictly follow the instructions for bowel preparation for colonoscopy…It may be a nuisance but it will help maximize the view during (colonoscopy).”
During a colonoscopy, a flexible, lighted tube, called a colonoscope, with a camera attached to it is inserted in the patient’s rectum and guided around the bends of the colon. Physicians look for any abnormalities during the procedure, including growths called polyps that can turn into cancer. This procedure requires a completely clean colon for maximum visibility, achieved through a combination of liquid laxatives, a liquid-only diet and lots of time near a commode. The colon-cleansing process usually begins the day before your procedure and may be inconvenient, but failing to follow the instructions for colonoscopy prep could result in missed polyps and the development of colon cancer.
Colon cancer is 90 percent treatable, but only when diagnosed in its early stages. People are advised to get regular screenings beginning at age 50; patients with a family history of colon cancer or polyps may need to begin the screening process at an earlier age. To find a colon cancer screening center near you, click here.