5 Debilitating Signs That Show You Must Go For A Colonoscopy
The thought of having to go through a colonoscopy can be worrying for many people. These worries include whether the procedure is painful or uncomfortable, whether there might be any side-effects and lastly what may be found or diagnosed. However, despite what you may or may not have heard about the gastroenterological procedure, it is still the best method for detecting colon cancer along with many other gastrointestinal diseases.
Colon cancer refers to cancer in the colon and rectum and is the most common cancer in Singapore and around the world.. In fact, it is the second and third highest cause of death due to cancer in males and females, respectively.
Environmental and genetic factors play a huge role in the development of colon cancer. Commonly known as silent killers, colon cancer-positive individuals often do not experience any signs or symptoms until the cancer has advanced to a later stage. Hence, the reason why it is such a deadly cancer. The good news is that colon cancer does not happen overnight but takes months to years to develop. This is why regular gastroenterology checkups and screening are so crucial for the early detection of cancer in asymptomatic individuals.
With that being said, here are five red flags or warnings that indicate your need for a colonoscopy.
1. You experience frequent pain in the colon
Abdominal pain doesn’t always indicate something serious. Nevertheless, should you experience frequent severe and persistent pain in your abdomen or colon, it could be a sign of colon cancer and should not be underestimated. One of the causes of frequent pain in the abdomen and colon is that as the cancerous tumours grow in size, they block the colon, causing stools and gas to build up, which results in pain.
2. You have a family history of inflammatory bowel diseases and colon cancer
Colon cancer does have a genetic predisposition and can be hereditary. Hence, if you have family members who have had colon cancer, you need to have regular colonoscopies. Colonoscopies can help you detect the presence of precancerous lumps or polyps early, allowing you to treat them immediately before they become cancerous. In addition, colonoscopies can also help diagnose other conditions like inflammatory bowel diseases (IBDs).
3. You experience sudden weight loss
Weight loss can happen due to a lack of nutrients or changes in appetite and diet. However, should you experience sudden weight loss that is not affected by any external factors, it could be another indicator for a due colonoscopy checkup.
Patients who have cancer usually display sudden weight loss due to the immune system requiring more energy to combat the cancerous cells. Additionally, in regard to colon cancer, as the tumour grows, it may result in blockage, affecting your bowel habits which could cause further weight loss.
4. You experience sudden changes in bowel movements and consistency
As mentioned above, colon cancer patients might not display any specific signs and symptoms. However, should any surface, one of the most common ones is a sudden change in bowel movements and consistency.
Usually, the stools may appear with the following characteristics:
- Thin stools: They come out with a pencil-like appearance and are usually caused by an obstruction in the colon.
- Bright red stools: They appear with specks of blood due to bleeding in the colon caused by the presence of cancerous tumours in the lower intestine region.
- Black stools: They are an immediate indicator of cancer in the bowel. The stool may have a tar-like consistency and appears either black, red, or brown.
Apart from the appearance of your stools being an indicative sign, a sudden change in bowel movement, such as persistent constipation or diarrhoea that lasts for at least two weeks, can be worrying signs that you should not ignore.
5. 45 is the new age to start screening
The risk of developing colon cancer is about 1 in 20 people. Asymptomatic polyps develop in 25% of individuals, with the prevalence increasing from 45 years old. In fact, it is getting increasingly common that doctors are seeing younger individuals for colon cancer. This is particularly so if you also have IBD, such as Crohn’s Disease and ulcerative colitis.
Colonoscopy is an important screening tool that not only can diagnose colon cancer but can also prevent colon cancer. The thought of going through a colonoscopy screening naturally causes some level of fear and anxiety. However, if you consider how it could save your life, that alone should help you overcome your worries. Although there are several other ways to screen for colon cancer, only a colonoscopy can remove any cancerous polyps immediately without having to go through extensive surgical procedures.
Here at GUTCARE, our team of medical professionals treats a variety of gastrointestinal diseases and symptoms, from IBS symptoms to fatty liver symptoms. With our experiences, you can rest assured that your condition is in good hands.
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