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Why a colonoscopy can save your life

25 January 2019 Blog
Gastroenterology
You might feel embarrassed or frightened about having a colonoscopy, but as Gastroenterologist Callum Pearce explains it can save your life.

A colonoscopy may also be called an endoscopy; a medical procedure that allows a doctor to observe the inside of the body without performing major surgery.

The endoscope is a long flexible tube with a lens at one end and a video camera at the other.

It is inserted into the natural openings of the body, and in the case of colonoscopies, into the anus.

Why do I need a colonoscopy?

You may have a colonoscopy if:

  • you have a family history of bowel cancer
  • notice a difference in your bowel habits that lasts longer than two weeks
  • experience pain for an extended period of time
  • if blood has been detected in your faeces.

A colonoscopy can lead to the detection and removal of polyps, some of which might have progressed to cancer.

It is also key to early diagnosis of colorectal cancer, Crohn’s Disease and other inflammatory diseases, ulcerative colitis and diverticulitis.

Improvements in technology

Over the last 20 years, there has been an increase in the number of people undergoing colonoscopies, partially due to the improvement in the technology and the introduction of the bowel cancer screening initiative.

The technology is impressive these days – the cameras and the screens we use have come a long way in terms of definition and usability.

Colonoscopies carry a small risk of perforation or bleeding, talk with your doctor about your concerns.

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Dr Callum Pearce - Gastroenterology
Dr Callum Pearce is consultant gastroenterologist at St John of God Murdoch Hospital. His specialist interests are inflammatory bowel disease and intestinal failure. He is however familiar with all aspects of general gastroenterology and is an experienced endoscopist having practiced endoscopy for 15 years..