Do I really need a colonoscopy? The purpose of a colonoscopy is to detect and/or evaluate the health of the large intestine, otherwise known as the colon. How do you know if you really need one?
Colon Function 101
The primary purpose of the large intestine (colon) is to absorb water and facilitate regulation of defecation. The large intestine, with a diameter of approximately 7 cm (approx. 2.75 inches) and a length of approximately 1.5 m (approx. 59 inches), is also responsible for the absorption of metabolites formed by natural bacteria in the intestine.
Thousands of different types of naturally occurring bacterial flora reside in the large intestine and are essential in the recovery of energy from foods …show more content…
The activity in the gastrointestinal tract declines, slowing down the storage of digestive juices. Peristalsis, a wavelike motion of the colon moves waste through the large intestine, also slows down, often resulting in chronic constipation in older people. Increased risk of diverticulosis and polyps – and for some - the development of colorectal cancer are common ailments of an aging gut.
When detected early, cancers within the colon are treatable. Approximately 80% of colon cancers can be observed and removed during a colonoscopy, while 50% of rectal cancers are felt during a rectal exam.
Signs and Symptoms of Colon …show more content…
For example, unusual, frequent constipation or diarrhea.
Difficulty or pain passing a bowel movement.
Feeling that you still have to empty your bowels even though you've just finished.
Any indication of blood in the stool. Very dark stools should be tested for blood, typically with a fecal occult blood test (FBOT).
Pain or cramping in the lower abdominal region that lasts more than a few days
An explicable weight loss.
Increased sense of fatigue or weakness, limiting physical activity, which may be an indication of anemia or the intestines not absorbing nutrients correctly.
Processes like cancer can develop slowly and spread throughout the body before symptoms appear. For this reason,physicians recommend screening tests for a variety of illnesses and disease processes on a routine basis. The American Cancer Society recommends colon cancer screenings for individuals 50 years of age or older. For those with a history of cancer in their family, a screening may be recommended even sooner.
What Exactly Can a Colonoscopy Find?
A colonoscopy serves a number of purposes for diagnostics. For