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Colonoscopies: Why are they performed and when should you have them?

Colonoscopies: Why are they performed and when should you have them?

recent study found up to 20 per cent of all procedures performed in a New South Wales hospital were either unhelpful or harmful.

Some of these, which included performing a colonoscopy for constipation, were becoming more prevalent.

A colonoscopy is a test where a small, flexible tube is inserted into the bowel to check for abnormalities such as growths on the bowel, which can lead to bowel cancer.

About 600,000 colonoscopies were performed in Australia in 2013-2014.

This figure is expected to rise to more than 1 million a year by 2020, equivalent to one in every 25 Australians.

A colonoscopy is an invasive procedure and comes with risks, including bowel perforation.

So it’s important to have the test only if you’re likely to benefit from it.

Why are colonoscopies performed?

Bowel cancer is the second-most-common cause of cancer-related death in Australia.

Current evidence suggests colonoscopy significantly reduces the risk of bowel cancers. This is where colonoscopy’s greatest benefit lies.

Colonoscopy can also be used to diagnose inflammatory bowel diseases.

Bowel cancers start out as small growths in the bowel called polyps. These can be seen with a colonoscopy and cut out by doctors during the test.

So colonoscopy is more worthwhile when done in people at an increased risk of bowel cancer. The most important risk factor is age, as cancer rates increase in people older than 50.

But some younger people can be at risk due to family history.

And recent data suggest bowel cancer in young people is rising here and internationally, though we’re not sure why.

Read the full story here:


Posted on: September 7 2018

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