Blue Mars: When Should You Have A Colonoscopy?
With more than 45,000 people affected each year in France and 17,000 deaths per year, colorectal cancer is the second most deadly cancer in our country. On the occasion of Blue March, the month of awareness for the screening of this cancer, we suggest you to discover in which case you should have a colonoscopy.
What does this exam consist of?
A coloscopy is an examination that looks inside the large intestine and the end of the small intestine using an endoscope, which is a flexible tube with a small camera.
This examination, which takes place under general anesthesia, allows us to look for abnormalities in the inner wall of the intestine.
It is therefore the gold standard exam in colorectal cancer screening and medical follow-up for people who have already had this cancer.
Another advantage is that this endoscopy allows for sampling and care, such as biopsies, removal of polyps, and coagulation of small lesions.
In what cases is this test prescribed?
Colonoscopy is a commonly performed test.
It is prescribed primarily in the following three cases:
- in cases of unexplained bowel symptoms such as pain or diarrhea
- in the presence of blood in the stool indicating bleeding from the intestine
- if there is a family or personal history of colorectal cancer
At what age should I have my first colonoscopy?
This exam is recommended starting at age 45 for people at risk, that is, people who have a family history of colorectal cancer or who have digestive system disorders.
Even without specific symptoms or a particular predisposition to colon cancer, a follow-up colonoscopy is available for everyone over age 50.
In fact, it is from the age of 50 that one should start screening for this cancer, which is one of the most deadly in France.
The screening organized by the Health Insurance concerns the whole population between 50 and 74 years old. It consists of an immunological test to be done at home to look for possible traces of blood in the stools.
If this test is positive, you will be referred to a gastroenterologist to perform a colonoscopy and determine the origin of the bleeding.
Why is it important to get tested?
Participation in organized colorectal cancer screening and performing a colonoscopy can detect any abnormalities.
These abnormalities are not necessarily cancerous because the majority of polyps are benign. However, removing these polyps during the examination is a very effective preventive measure.
Between 60 and 80% of colon cancers develop from polyps. The great advantage of colonoscopy is that it allows removal of these polyps before they become cancerous.
If you are still hesitant to participate in organized screening or to have this endoscopic exam, tell yourself that colon cancer is well curable. It is cured in 9 out of 10 cases when it is detected early.