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Colorectal Diseases

Alternatives to colonoscopy for screening?

11/13/2006

Question:

I`m a 59 year old female with no family history of cancer of any kind. I`ve never had any kind of gastro/digestive problems, including heartburn.

What are the alternatives to colonoscopy for cancer screening? I had a bad experience with IV sedation in the past and won`t even consider doing an elective procedure which requires it. (I also admit that the idea of going without food for a day and drinking glass after glass of unsavory liquids is not exactly appealing.)

Answer:

Colonoscopy is the gold standard, and can- in certain patients- be done without sedation.

There are other options available, but none is as accurate in "clearing the colon" as colonoscopy. These options include yearly fecal occult blood testing (FOBT) with flexible sigmoidoscopy every 5 years; flexible sigmoidoscopy with barium enema; and newer unproven methods like virtual colonoscopy and stool DNA screening.

All methods require the prep, with the exception of FOBT. It is a small price to pay for the peace of mind associated with personal knowledge of your health! Good luck with your decision.

For more information:

Go to the Colorectal Diseases health topic, where you can:

Response by:

Janice Frederick Rafferty, MD Janice Frederick Rafferty, MD
Professor of Surgery
Chief of Colorectal Surgery Division
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati