A Colonoscopy is the examination of the large intestine using a thin, flexible tube that has a light and camera at the tip. The procedure allows a gastroenterologist to look inside the entire colon to check for abnormal tissue. Colonoscopy has also emerged as the preferred method to screen people for precancerous growths called polyps and colon cancer. The benefit of a colonoscopy over other screening tests such as the stool test, virtual colonoscopy and barium enemas, is the potential to both identify and permit removal of colorectal polyps before they turn into cancer. Colonoscopy is the only test that allows a biopsy or removal of a polyp at the very same time it is first identified.
A colon polyp is a growth on the surface of the colon, and can be raised or flat. Screening tests can find colon polyps so they can be removed before they could turn into cancer. It also helps identify patients that are at high risk for colon cancer. Most colorectal cancers develop from polyps, which are abnormal growths in the colon. If polyps grow unnoticed and are not removed, they may become cancerous. Anyone can develop colon polyps. But you are at higher risk if you are 50 years or older or have a personal or family history of colon polyps or colon cancer. Most people do not have any symptoms from polyps, which is why it is important to undergo screening tests before you develop any symptoms.
Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States, yet it is one of the most preventable types of cancer. Colorectal cancer is cancer that starts in the colon. Regular colorectal screening or testing is one of the most powerful ways to prevent colorectal cancer. From the time the first abnormal cells start to grow into polyps, it can take about 10 years for them to develop into cancer. Regular screening can help prevent colorectal cancer. People who have no identified risk factors (such as a family history of colon cancer or polyps) and no symptoms should begin regular screening at age 50. African Americans have been recommended to start screening at age 45. Those who have family history or other risk factors for colorectal polyps or cancer should talk with their doctor about if they need to start screening at a younger age.
Gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, is a condition that affects millions of people, and can cause significant health problems. GERD is commonly clinically referred to as acid reflux disease. When acid backs up from your stomach into your esophagus, it can cause the burning sensation. Acid reflux occurs when the lower esophageal sphincter (the valve separating the esophagus and stomach) does not close properly, allowing acid to back up into the esophagus. GERD is a chronic condition and may lead to more serious medical conditions, but is treatable.
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a disorder characterized by abdominal pain or discomfort, and altered bowel habit (diarrhea and/or constipation). Symptoms may result from a disturbance in the way the gut, brain and nervous system interact. Stress does not cause IBS, however, because of the connection between the brain and the gut, stress can worsen or trigger symptoms. The key sign or symptom of IBS is pain or discomfort in the abdomen that is related to your bowel habits.
Diverticulosis refers to the presence of small out-pouchings (called diverticula) or sacs that can develop in the lining of the gastrointestinal tract. While diverticula can be present anywhere in the entire digestive tract, they are most common in the large intestine. Most patients with diverticulosis have no symptoms. Many will never know they have the condition until it is discovered during an endoscopic or radiographic (x-ray) examination. While most people do not have any symptoms, some individuals may experience infection of the diverticula known as diverticulitis or bleeding.