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The Benefits and Risks of Colonoscopies

benefits and risks of colonoscopies

Colonoscopies are a standard procedure used to check for abnormalities in the large intestine and screen for colon cancer. They are recommended for people age 45 and above, but individuals with certain risk factors may need a colonoscopy at a younger age. Although the thought of routine colonoscopies may be intimidating, colonoscopies are safe procedures with many potentially life-saving benefits. Here’s what you need to know about the benefits and risks of colonoscopies.

What Happens During a Colonoscopy?

During the procedure, a doctor will use a colonoscope, a lighted tube, to look inside the lower part of your bowel. Preparation usually involves drinking a liquid called a bowel prep, which helps clean out your large intestine.

Before the procedure, your doctor will give you a sedative to help you relax and fall asleep. Your doctor will then place the colonoscope into your rectum and gently move it through your large intestine. As the colonoscope moves through your intestine, your doctor can view the lining of the large intestine on a monitor.

While looking at your intestine, your doctor may take tissue samples to be tested for abnormalities. Once your doctor has completed the examination, the colonoscope will be removed, and you can return home after a short recovery period.

Why Should I Get a Colonoscopy?

Colorectal cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer in the United States, meaning a colonoscopy might save your life. Like every medical procedure, there are benefits and risks to undergoing a colonoscopy. Fortunately, the benefits greatly outweigh any discomfort you may experience.

Benefits of Colonoscopies

Here are eight benefits of having a regular colonoscopy:

1. Early Detection of Colon Cancer

Colonoscopies can detect colon cancer in its earliest stages. Early detection enables earlier treatment and increases your likelihood of recovery.

2. Decreased Risk for Colon Cancer

During a colonoscopy, your doctor may see precancerous polyps. Removing these polyps can reduce your risk of developing colon cancer in the future.

3. Improved Diagnosis

Colonoscopies offer a more comprehensive view of the colon than other diagnostic procedures. Because of this, you’ll receive a more precise diagnosis and effective treatment.

4. Reduced Risk of Death

Detecting colon cancer at an earlier stage can help reduce the risk of death due to the disease.

5. Prevention of Other Illnesses

Colonoscopies can help detect any signs of inflammation or infection in the colon, which can lead to other illnesses if left untreated.

6. Cost-Effective

Early detection and treatment save lives and money in the long run by reducing the need for expensive treatments later.

7. Improved Symptom Management

Colonoscopies can help diagnose underlying issues that may be causing symptoms such as abdominal pain or rectal bleeding. Addressing the cause of these symptoms can help with symptom management and provide relief.

8. Improved Quality of Life

Early detection of colon issues can help improve a patient’s quality of life and reduce the risk of complications and the severity of symptoms.

Colonoscopy Risks

Colonoscopies are generally safe and relatively painless procedures because they are performed by experienced and trained medical professionals who use cutting-edge medical technology and methods. Studies have shown that complications from colonoscopies are uncommon, but with any procedure, there can be risks. Here are four risks of undergoing a colonoscopy.

1. Minor bleeding

Minor bleeding is one of the most common risks associated with a colonoscopy and is usually treatable with a few hours of observation and additional medication administration.

2. Infection

There is a risk of infection associated with colonoscopy. However, infection is infrequent and can be treated with antibiotics.

3. Perforation

Perforation is an extremely rare complication of colonoscopy, but it can occur if the instrument used to perform the procedure punctures the colon’s wall. If this happens, the patient may require surgery.

4. Temporary abdominal pain

Abdominal pain is a common side effect of colonoscopy, but it is usually temporary and can be managed with over-the-counter pain medications.

It is essential to discuss these risks with your doctor before the procedure. Following the prep instructions and discussing the risks, your doctor can help make the procedure safe and successful.

Schedule Your Next Colonoscopy Appointment

Take action now and get a colonoscopy! A colonoscopy is an important test that can help detect colorectal cancer in its early stages. Early detection is key to successful treatment and may even prevent cancer from developing in the first place. Talk to your doctor today to learn more about how a colonoscopy can save your life.

Don’t delay your colonoscopy any longer if you are 45 or older – schedule today!

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