Two weeks ago, Bee Gees’ Robin Gibb made headlines following his death at the age of 62 due to colon cancer that spread to his liver. His tragic demise highlighted the killer disease which is highly preventable with regular colon screening.
Colon cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States. But unlike other types of cancer, it is largely treatable when detected early. While there are several ways to monitor your colon, the gold standard for early detection is colonoscopy, which is recommended every 10 years.
Colonoscopy checks the rectum and entire colon using a lighted instrument. It’s the only cancer detection test that allows doctors to find and remove polyps before they turn into cancer. Many people are often discouraged taking the test because they dread the preparation which requires extensive full bowel movement to clean out the colon. In administering the test, the physician uses a thin, flexible tube with a small video camera attached to one end to examine the six-foot long colon. The patient is typically sedated during the entire procedure; thus, no tinge of pain will be felt.
According to studies, colonoscopy is 60% to 90% effective at preventing colon cancer. Other colon cancer testing methods available are sigmoidoscopy, fecal occult blood test, and double contrast barium enema.