You might feel embarrassed or frightened about having a colonoscopy, but it can save your life.
A colonoscopy is known as an endoscopy; a medical procedure that allows a doctor to observe the inside of the body without performing major surgery. The endoscope is a long flexible tube with a lens at one end and a video camera at the other. It is inserted into the natural openings of the body, and in the case of colonoscopies, into the anus.
Gastroenterologist Dr Callum Pearce says if you have a family history of bowel cancer, notice a difference in your bowel habits that lasts longer than two weeks, experience pain for an extended period of time or if blood has been detected in your faeces, you should have a colonoscopy.
“A colonoscopy can lead to the detection and removal of polyps, some of which might have progressed to cancer,” Dr Pearce says.
“It is also key to early diagnosis of colorectal cancer, Crohn’s Disease and other inflammatory diseases, ulcerative colitis and diverticulitis.”
In the last 20 years, there has been an increase in the number of people undergoing colonoscopies, partially due to the improvement in the technology and the introduction of the bowel cancer screening initiative.
“The technology is impressive these days – the cameras and the screens we use have come a long way in terms of definition and useability,” Dr Pearce says.
Colonoscopies carry a small risk of perforation or bleeding, talk with your doctor about your concerns.