40 Force: Colon Cancer – Understanding the Colonoscopy
(WGGB) — The most common screening test for colon cancer is something called a colonoscopy.
It’s an invasive procedure that’s not a very pleasant experience, but the simple truth is – it can save your life.
The human gastrointestinal track is roughly 30 feet long. It’s a muscular tube that extends from your mouth to your rectum.
It has three distinct parts – the esophagus and stomach, the small intestine, and the final six feet called the large intestine or colon.
It’s here, in the colon, that gastroenterologists like Dr. Ira Schmelkin of Noble Hospital, visually check for cancer with a painless screening test called a colonoscopy.
“Most patients do not find the procedure uncomfortable. What most patients find bothersome is the preparation. You need to evacuate the bowls and the way we do that is with various preps,” says Dr. Schmelkin.
All with the same goal to give the doctor an unobstructed view of the inside of your colon using a flexible tube called a colonoscope.
Patients are put under twilight sedation, so they are still conscious and the proceedure only takes about 15 to 30 minutes.
However, that small amount of time may literally make the difference between life and death.
“It’s been over the last couple of years that the American cancer Society has shown that the rate of colon cancer is dropping and death rate from colon cancer is dropping, so colonsocopies are saving lives because even when your finding cancer, you’re picking it up earlier, so they have a better prognosis. Patients are living or being cured from colon cancer because it’s earlier detection,” Schmelkin adds.
The key is detection and talking to your doctor.