By Lonny Hecker, MD
Colon cancer is preventable through early detection and intervention. A screening colonoscopy is important because colon cancer can develop in people who have no symptoms or family history. Colonoscopy is the best test to prevent colon cancer.
A colonoscopy is a routine, safe and effective procedure that offers the most thorough examination of the colon. Patients are given sedation so they are comfortable. Once sedated the procedure involves passage of a flexible thin tube containing a tiny camera which allows the gastroenterologist to see the entire colon. If polyps are found, they will be removed during the same procedure.
Gastroenterologists at The Everett Clinic have the expertise and latest technology to help identify both the typical bulging polyps and flat polyps, which are harder to detect. We use high definition endoscopes and narrow band Imaging (NBI), to aid in detecting these flat growths. NBI uses narrow bands of light to improve the visual contrast of the surface of the colon, helping our doctors see fine abnormalities which are normally hard to distinguish. High definition scopes give doctors the ability to see the digestive tract in greater detail.
Screening colonoscopy is an outpatient procedure. We take every possible measure to minimize inconvenience and discomfort.
Kristi O’Harran, 57, a columnist for The Herald, underwent a colonoscopy at The Everett Clinic at the same time as her husband, Chuck.
“The colonoscopy couldn’t have been more pain free,” O’Harran said. “There was only one needle poke and the rest of the procedure was done in a kind, caring manner.”
Current guidelines state that both men and women have a colonoscopy starting at age 50. Those who have had blood in the stool or a relative with colon cancer should talk to their physician about getting the procedure earlier.
Remember, colon cancer can be prevented simply by having polyps removed when they are small. A colonoscopy done under sedation lasting less than 30 minutes is one of the most important things you can do to help assure life without colon cancer.