A colonoscopy is so important for those sufferering from colitis
This is not just to ensure the inflamed area of the colon is behaving itself but also to keep on the look out for any sign of the development of bowel cancer.
Here is an extract from an interview by Dr Richard Billingham of the Swedish Cancer Institute in Seattle.
How many people develop colon cancer each year in the U.S.
Dr. Billingham: More than 150,000; nearly HALF of those will die from their disease. The chance that an average person in the U.S. would develop colorectal cancer in their lifetime is 1 in 20.
Is there an age group that is at greatest risk?
Dr. Billingham: Those over 50 are at higher risk, so it is recommended that colonoscopy be done every 10 years, beginning at age 50, to look for POLYPS, which are benign growths in the lining of the colon. Currently it is believed that virtually ALL colon cancer develops from these polyps. Not every polyp becomes a colon cancer, but we can’t tell in advance which one WiLL or WILL NOT become colon cancer. Therefore, when polyps are discovered through colonoscopy, they are removed or destroyed so as to prevent any cancer from developing.
How can having a colonoscopy prevent this disease?
Dr. Billingham: If everybody had colonoscopy as indicated above, we would be able to prevent more than 95% of the colon cancers which we see today. The risks of a colonoscopy are perforation (3 in 10,000); and bleeding (7 in 10,000). The risk of development of cancer WITHOUT a colonoscopy is much larger (500 in 10,000). It seems to people who have never had a colonoscopy that it would be a really big deal; the prep is annoying, but people are completely asleep and pain-free during a colonoscopy, and wake up after the procedure without pain.
Can diet influence one’s risk?
Dr. Billingham: In theory, high consumption beef or animal fat can increase the chance of developing polyps, and subsequent colon cancer. However, with regular screening with colonoscopy, removing any polyps which are discovered, the risk of developing colon cancer is near zero.
What symptoms might be early warning signs to watch for?
Dr. Billingham: Most people have NO symptoms until a large colon cancer causes bleeding or obstruction. For this reason, it is recommended to have periodic colonoscopy to detect polyps, which are the PRE-cancerous lesions, and remove them before they can develop into cancer.
So the next time you have an appointment with your hospital consultant, ask about the opportunity of undergoing a colonoscopy…it is better to be in the know.