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Video clip of a Colonoscopy Taken by Dr. Julio Murra-Saca

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Published on Apr 8, 2007

What is a colonoscopy? A colonoscopy allows a doctor to look inside the entire large intestine.The procedure enables the physician to see things such as inflamed tissue, abnormal growths, and ulcers. It is most often used to look for early signs of cancer in the colon and rectum. It is also used to look for causes of unexplained changes in bowel habits and to evaluate symptoms like abdominal pain, rectal bleeding,and weight loss. The colon, or large bowel, is the last portion of your , or gastrointestinal tract.

Colonoscopy enables visual inspection of the entire large bowel from the distal rectum to the cecum.

The procedure is a safe and effective means of evaluating the large bowel. The technology for colonoscopy has evolved to provide a very clear image of the mucosa through a video camera attached to the end of the scope. The camera connects to a computer, which can store and print color images selected during the procedure.

Screening for and follow-up of colorectal cancer are among the indications for colonoscopy. Although colorectal cancer is highly preventable, it is the second most common cancer and cause of cancer deaths in the United States. Both men and women face a lifetime risk of nearly 6% for the development of invasive colorectal cancer. Proper screening can help reduce mortality rates at all ages, and colonoscopy plays an important role in this effort.

Compared with other imaging modalities, colonoscopy is especially useful in detecting small lesions such as adenomas; however, the main advantage of colonoscopy is that it allows for intervention, because biopsies can be taken and polyps removed.

Indications for Colonoscopy
Colorectal cancer screening in average-risk adults

Recommendations vary among the leading organizations in this field, namely the American Cancer Society (ACS), the World Health Organization (WHO), the US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), and the American College of Physicians (ACP). It is generally recommended, however, that average-risk adults should begin colorectal cancer screening at age 50 years, utilizing one of several options for screening, among which is colonoscopy, every 5 years.

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