The good news is that bowel cancer can be preventable and there is a high chance of cure if it is detected early. About 60% of people with bowel cancer are cured.
At The Endoscopy Clinic, we believe that colonoscopy is the best screening procedure currently available for the prevention and treatment of pre-cancerous growths and for the early detection of bowel cancer.
Screening identifies people without symptoms who are more likely to have polyps or cancer from among the general population. Colon cancer screening has the ability to detect and, by colonoscopy, remove pre-cancerous polyps.
Surveillance monitors those with a history of bowel cancer or polyps plus those with other high risk conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease – IBD (Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis). If you have adenomatous polyps you should have regular follow up colonoscopies to check your bowel for further polyps that may have formed or for signs of early cancer. Your specialist will advise you when you should have another colonoscopy.
Some people who have had surgery to remove part of their bowel to treat bowel cancer are at risk of developing new bowel cancers and having their previous bowel cancer recur. To lower your risk:
People who have inflammatory bowel disease – IBD (either ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease) may be at increased risk of developing bowel cancer. The risk depends on how long they have had inflammatory bowel disease and how much of the large bowel is involved.
The most effective form of prevention is screening to detect polyps and pre-cancerous changes in the bowel. And the most effective form of screening is a colonoscopy.
A thin, flexible fibre optic tube containing a tiny video camera at its tip is introduced through the rectum into the colon and the entire large bowel. The last segment of the small bowel is able to be thoroughly examined by one of our specialists.
Before the examination the bowel must be empty and you will be given a special solution to help this occur.
You must be in reasonable health and must avoid certain supplements and medications such as iron, aspirin and Warfarin. The nurse will discuss this with you in greater detail before the examination.
The colonoscopy is conducted in hospital under sedation and you will usually remain there for up to three hours to allow time for recovery from the sedation and accompanying painkillers.
The frequency of colonoscopy required will depend on what is found at the time of the examination. A follow-up appointment will usually be arranged to discuss these findings and further treatment and/or examinations, if necessary.
While colonoscopy has a high degree of accuracy and during the procedure it is also possible to remove pre-cancerous growths (polyps), you may decide, for various reasons that a colonoscopy is not for you.
Other screening options include:
A referral to The Endoscopy Clinic for bowel cancer screening can give you peace of mind.