Tags: colon cancer | colonospopy | Cologuard | MRI

Colon Tests With Less Risk

By Thursday, 11 May 2017 04:38 PM Current | Bio | Archive

Colorectal cancers are the fourth most common type diagnosed in the United States, with nearly 140,000 new cases reported each year.

The most common test for evaluation of the colon is called a colonoscopy, in which a thin, flexible tube is inserted in order to look at the inner lining of the large intestine.

The procedure, which is usually performed under anesthesia, helps identify ulcers, colon polyps, tumors, and areas of inflammation or bleeding.

The problem is that there are significant risks related to the colonoscopy procedure. Potential complications include infection and perforation of the colon.

Data show that each year, about 15 million Americans undergo a colonoscopy. Of that group 15,000 of them die — not from cancer, but from the colonoscopy screening itself.

In addition, there is a risk of developing dysbiosis, a condition in which the balance between the protective and harmful bacteria in the gut becomes offset.

Yet another complication of colonoscopies is the use of anesthesia, which can produce hypoxia in the brain, aspiration pneumonia, cardiac arrhythmias, abdominal pain, and nausea.

Anesthesia can also cause a defect that decreases cognitive function and memory. In fact, this has occurred in some patients that I have been associated with.

Finally, there is a potential for false readings with colonoscopy, with some research indicating that indicates that 15 percent to 27 percent of cancer polyps go unnoticed with the procedure.

Luckily, other techniques are being developed that can provide equal accuracy without the risks of colonoscopy.

Noninvasive technique that can be performed instead of a colonoscopy include fecal occult blood testing (FOBT) or just a simple flexible sigmordoscopy.

These tests are gaining greater acceptance with the increased understanding of the risks of colonoscopy — particularly the risk of cognitive defects.

Another technique — called virtual CT colonoscopy — has the advantage of not requiring anesthesia. Unfortunately, this procedure can also sometimes miss colon cancer, though the accuracy does seem to be getting better.

A newer technique under development is MRI colonoscopy which, has also the advantage again of requiring neither anesthesia nor a radiation dose as with an abdominal CT.

But MRI colonoscopy is just really beginning to be understood as a useful technique.

Finally, there is an at-home colon cancer test kit called Cologuard (which you may have seen advertised on TV).

This is a noninvasive technique for evaluating the health of the colon. It works by simply collecting a stool sample and putting it in special packaging that comes with the test kit. That package can then be sent to the company for evaluation.

Current data indicate that the accuracy of Cologuard for detecting cancer in the colon is 92 percent — which is equal to or better than other methods for evaluating colon health.

In addition, pre-cancerous changes were detected at a 69 percent rate, which is again a very good percentage for any colon test.

I believe this is a procedure that you should as your doctor about. He can order a Cologuard packet for you.

If you want to know more about new techniques for evaluating colon health, there is plenty of information online. Look for the procedures I’ve mentioned here: virtual CT colonoscopy, MRI colonoscopy, FOBT, sigmordoscopy, and also Cologuard.

As I have noted before, medicine is always changing, and we are getting to the point when we no longer consider colonoscopy to be the screening procedure of choice for evaluation of the presence or absence of colon cancer.

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Colorectal cancers are the fourth most common type diagnosed in the United States, with nearly 140,000 new cases reported each year.
colon cancer, colonospopy, Cologuard, MRI
Thursday, 11 May 2017 04:38 PM
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