The Colon Cancer It is currently one of the most common and those that cause the most deaths in our country. All this, despite the fact that prevention and early detection and treatment would manage to avoid most of the fatal outcomes.
Thus, it is not surprising that in approaching this disease at the epidemiological level screening programs are considered essential and that many awareness campaigns are launched in this regard.
Different tests for different purposes
Precisely to achieve this early detection, the current recommendation is that those who are not at particular risk for colorectal cancer begin regular testing. from 45 years old.
Among the most commonly used tests to identify this form of cancer, the best known and most used is undoubtedly the colonoscopy (a test that involves inserting a probe with a camera and surgical equipment through the anus). However, as explained National Cancer Institute of the United Statesis not the only possible one.
It should be noted, however, that the choice of one procedure or another does not depend (at least to a large extent) on the preferences of the patient (there are people who are reluctant to undergo colonoscopies) but rather must be established with the doctor on medical criteria. And, in any case, most of the time, these other procedures are associated with a colonoscopy.
For example, in some cases, the first signs of colon cancer are found on the Pap smear. detection of occult blood in the stool, an examination consisting of the analysis of feces using chemical methods in order to look for traces of blood not perceptible to the naked eye. Blood, however, can be a symptom of various colon conditions, so it will need to be determined later through a colonoscopy.
On the other hand, there is the possibility of sigmodoscopy, a procedure very similar to a colonoscopy (a camera and surgical equipment are also inserted through the patient’s anus) but which only allows observation of the inner part of the large intestine, instead of its entire length. It is therefore less invasive than a colonoscopy, but if your doctor discovers cancerous or pre-cancerous lesions using this method, you will probably have to have a colonoscopy later.
A test that, in very limited cases, could be postulated as an alternative to conventional colonoscopy is the digital colonoscopy, in which instead of inserting the instruments through the anus, a series of X-rays (computerized tomography) are performed, which are then processed by computer. However, it requires the insertion of a tube into the anus to pump air through it, which causes some discomfort; additionally, if abnormalities are found, a colonoscopy may be needed to obtain additional information (as may be needed if symptoms are present but digital colonoscopy is unable to identify the problem).
The last procedure currently used is the stool DNA test. It is considered suitable for screening (people without symptoms and at no particular risk who undergo routine preventive tests), but not for diagnosis in symptomatic people or those with a strong family history, and if the results are positive, a colonoscopy will be necessary.
Colonoscopy, the gold standard
In addition to these methods, there are others that are being developed and in some cases are performing well in clinical trials. Today, however, colonoscopy is still considered the best option for colon cancer screening.
For this reason, it is important to banish prejudices and reluctance towards this medical test. It must be remembered that today it is generally perform under sedationand the technique is advancing in the direction of making it the least invasive and the least inconvenient possible.