A colonoscopy or telescopic examination of the colon is used to investigate a range of symptoms including abdominal pain, diarrhoea, anaemia, constipation and rectal bleeding. Disorders most commonly found include colitis (inflammation of the colon), colonic polyps (pre cancerous growths) which can be removed at the time of the procedure, colon cancer and diverticular disease.
A colonoscopy, like a gastroscopy, is normally performed under sedation so you have little recall of the procedure being performed. Unlike a gastroscopy, it is required that you take bowel purgatives before the procedure to ensure that clear views are obtained. More detailed information can be found on this website or from the relevant booking office at the hospital where you are having the procedure performed.
Colon cancer is bowel cancer that occurs in the colon, or large intestine. Symptoms of colon cancer include abdominal pain, blood in stool, unexplained weight loss, fatigue, and diarrhoea or constipation that lasts three weeks or more with no apparent cause. It's also common to feel that the bowels aren't properly empty after having a bowel movement. These symptoms don't always indicate colon cancer, but because they can be caused by a serious illness it's important to see your doctor if you experience them. Diagnosis of colon cancer typically starts with abdominal and rectal examinations, and may include a colonoscopy, a CT scan, and other procedures.
The colon cancer treatment a patient receives depends on the stage of their cancer, and their overall health and fitness. The primary colon cancer treatment is surgery to remove the cancer. Early stage colon cancer typically requires removal of only a small piece of the colon wall, but if the cancer has spread beyond its point of origin, it may be necessary to remove a large piece of the colon, or remove part of the muscle that surrounds the colon. Surgery is often followed up with chemotherapy, radiotherapy, or other additional treatments, to kill any remaining cancer cells.
Bowel cancer is the fourth most common cancer in the UK, with the second highest mortality rate. Diagnosis is made at a later stage in the UK and survival is poorer than in comparable countries. Despite this, the NHS does not provide screening for bowel cancer until the age of 55. At 55, adults are eligible for a one-time bowel scope screening test, and between the ages of 60 and 74, can take a home test that screens for the presence of blood in stool. People who have abnormal test results are then eligible for a colonoscopy to investigate the potential causes of the positive test results.
However, it's generally recommended in Europe and North America that people are first screened for bowel cancer beginning at age 50, and that this initial testing include a colonoscopy. In some cases—in particular for people who have a family history of bowel cancer—it may even be necessary to start screening even earlier than age 50. As a result, increasing numbers of people are opting to have a private colonoscopy rather than rely on the NHS to provide screening tests. Having a private colonoscopy has many advantages: you get the peace of mind that comes with knowing you've been tested for a dangerous disease, and by having the procedure through a private hospital, you can enjoy an increased level of comfort and privacy too.
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