Colon cancer screening benefits
It is not an exciting conversation to have with your doctor, but once you reach age fifty, colonoscopies can truly be a life saver.
"Colonoscopy has been shown, since 2004, to decrease colon cancer deaths by almost three percent every year," says Jeff Michalak, gastroenterologist with Mercy Medical Center.
Colonoscopies are one of the best ways to screen for colon cancer. They take very little time to conduct, less than a half hour, and they do not need to be conducted frequently.
"If there's nothing found, and there's no alarm symptoms or no polyps, they can get screened every ten years with a colonoscopy," says Michalak. "There are other modalities for colon cancer screening, however the colonoscopy is the best one because it can be diagnostic, and therapeutic if we find those precursor lesions."
Colonoscopies can identify other medical conditions as well, including heart murmurs or reactions to medicines. This is because patients are in the presence of so many medical personnel, and several people are keeping an eye on them.
"Patients are usually seen by the anesthesia team, as well as the nursing staff and myself," says Michalak. "And so just by being seen by anybody in the medical field we can see various different things, for example a side effect to medication, some sort of a heart problem, we put them on a monitor, so various things can be detected that day as well."
But in the end, it's the goal of saving lives that keep the medical community going.
"By people undergoing these screenings at the appropriate time interval, we can detect these growths sooner, and prevent colon cancer death," says Michalak.