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The Colonoscopy: It’s Not Just for Colon Cancer

The colonoscopy is considered the gold standard for colon cancer screening because it is the most thorough and comprehensive exam available. But what you may not know is that the colonoscopy can be used to diagnose and treat a variety of gastrointestinal issues. This simple, outpatient procedure provides your doctor with an up-close visual of the inner lining of the large intestine (colon and rectum) to detect the presence of polyps, lesions, bleeding and other abnormalities. Here are some conditions that can be detected, diagnosed and sometimes treated with a colonoscopy:

Colitis

Colitis is a type of inflammatory bowel disease characterized by chronic inflammation in the lining of the colon. Symptoms of colitis may include abdominal pain, cramping, fatigue, diarrhea, and blood in the stool. A colonoscopy allows your doctor to detect the location of the inflammation and administer treatment.

Diverticular Disease

Diverticular disease consists of two conditions: diverticulosis, which occurs when pockets form within the intestinal wall, and diverticulitis, which occurs when these pouches become inflamed. Diverticulitis can be an extremely painful condition with symptoms such as abdominal pain, bloating, nausea or vomiting, diarrhea, or constipation. A colonoscopy can be used to detect the frequency and severity of infection in diverticulitis to help your doctor decide on the most appropriate course of treatment.

Bleeding lesions

A colonoscopy can detect the location of bleeding lesions within the colon, and medication can be administered on the spot to control the bleeding.

GI symptoms

A colonoscopy can diagnose unexplained gastrointestinal issues such as rectal bleeding, changes in bowel habits, and abdominal pain accompanied by anemia or weight loss. While these symptoms can be indicative of colon cancer, they can also be attributed to several other GI conditions. A colonoscopy offers the most comprehensive examination to identify the cause of these symptoms and determine the best course of treatment (Source: PPcorn).

No one ever looks forward to a colonoscopy, but if you have to get one, take comfort knowing you are receiving the most thorough examination available. Early detection and treatment are key to avoiding long-term complications from colon cancer and many other gastrointestinal conditions.