A colonoscopy is the most thorough method of screening the colon (large intestine). It is performed by using a colonoscopy which is a sophisticated instrument with a fibreoptic camera on the end. This is inserted into the anus and steered through the entire length of the colon (+/- 1.5 metres), while the patient is under local anaesthetic or sedation. This is usually done in the doctor’s rooms but can also be done in hospital.
Colonoscopy not only checks the colon (or large intestine) thoroughly, but we can biopsy or remove polyps or other abnormalities at the same time. If you have polyps in the colon, even though they may cause no symptoms, they can be detected and removed at colonoscopy before they become malignant, reducing your risk of getting colon cancer by up to 70%.
Colon cancer is the second most common cause of cancer in the Western World. If a cancerous growth is already present, it can be diagnosed at colonoscopy by means of biopsy. Surgery can then be planned. The sooner this is done the better chance there is of a cure.