Why Colonoscopies Are the Gold Standard for Identifying Colorectal Cancer


Close to 50,000 individuals in the United States die from colorectal cancer annually. It is the second-most cause of cancer fatalities for both genders. Luckily, it is very treatable and, when caught quickly, the prognosis can be very positive.

The Food and Drug Administration has authorized three brands of at-home screening tests for colorectal cancer. These tests operate by uncovering cancerous changes in the feces, like bleeding or DNA markers for colon and rectal cancer. Although the relative ease of these exams might make them appear like a good replacement, it is important to recognize that the colonoscopy continues to be the benchmark for the detection and prevention of colon and rectal cancer. For men and women in Tulsa, OK, a gastrointestinal specialist who can perform a colonoscopy is accessible at your local Adult Gastroenterology Associates.

Why should you receive a colonoscopy exam?

Early discovery is key to defeating colon and rectal cancer. If cancer is detected in the bowels before it has a chance to metastasize, the five-year survival rate is close to 90%. Though other methods of checking for colon and rectal cancer are obtainable, none have proved as precise and as reliable as the colonoscopy screening. The best weapons in the war against colorectal cancer are colorectal cancer knowledge and routine colonoscopies.

How does a colonoscopy work?

Before your exam, your gastroenterologist will provide you with preparatory instructions to make sure your bowel is empty throughout the procedure. These directions might include:

  • Fasting: You might be asked to forgo solid food and consume just clear fluids for a day before your test.

  • Consuming a laxative: Your gastroenterologist may provide you with a laxative or "bowel prep" to empty your colon either the night before or the morning of your colonoscopy.

  • Regulating medications: If you are on medications for diabetes, blood pressure, or heart problems, you may need to modify your dose or temporarily stop consuming them.

During the colonoscopy, you will likely be administered a mild variety of sedation to help you feel relaxed and then instructed to rest on your side. A slender, pliable tube fitted with a video camera on the end will be placed through your rectum and into your colon. This tube, or colonoscope, is long enough to extend throughout your entire colon. Your gastroenterologist will examine the video from the camera on a video monitor and search for abnormal areas. In the event a growth (polyp) or another abnormality is detected, instruments can be utilized through the colonoscope to perform biopsy tissue sampling.

When is it recommended to get a colonoscopy screening?

As recommended by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), patients should schedule their initial colonoscopy screening at 45 years of age and then once every decade for those who are of average risk. When patients have a greater chance of having colon or rectal cancer, our GI specialists might advise having a screening once every 3 – 5 years. Common risk factors for colorectal cancer include:

  • Type 2 diabetes

  • Family history of colon cancer

  • Digestive conditions, like Crohn's disease and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)

  • Personal history of large polyps, multiple polyps, or colon or rectal cancer

Your GI doctor may also recommend a colonoscopy if you are noticing any of these signs or symptoms of colon cancer:

  • Diarrhea

  • Bloody stools

  • Queasiness and vomiting

  • Pain in the abdominal area

  • Persistent constipation

Should you experience any of these indications, please call Adult Gastroenterology Associates to meet with a GI specialist in Tulsa, OK as soon as possible.

Why are colonoscopies the gold standard?

Though certain home-based screening kits have received approval from the Food and Drug Administration, a colonoscopy is still the most effective method of detecting cancer of the colon or rectum. Furthermore, potentially cancerous or large polyps can be excised through a colonoscopy which reduces the need for additional procedures. An individual who tests positive on a home-based screening test will still need to schedule a colonoscopy to confirm those results and have any cancerous or precancerous polyps removed.

Need to schedule a colon cancer screening in Tulsa, OK?

If you are age 45 or over, undergoing periodic colon cancer screenings is a critical part of protecting your well-being. Colonoscopies at Adult Gastroenterology Associates can help detect and prevent colon and rectal cancer, providing you a good fighting chance if the cancer is caught early and peace of mind if you are cancer-free. To arrange for a colonoscopy in Tulsa, OK, or for further details about protecting yourself against colorectal cancer, please contact our GI team.