Lots of exercise, healthy eating and, as far as possible, avoid alcohol and tobacco: Many men take great care of their bodies and their health. Medical health checks for the early detection of certain diseases, such as colon cancer, are not quite as popular. For example, Deutsche Krebshilfe (German Cancer Aid) reports that only a few people avail themselves of the option of screening for colorectal cancer – although colorectal cancer is currently the third most common tumor disease in men.
Cancer screening is particularly important in this disease. “Colon cancer develops in many cases without symptoms,” says Professor Dr. Thomas Frieling. He is an internist, gastroenterologist and director of the Medical Clinic II at the Helios Clinic in Krefeld. If symptoms such as blood in the stool or persistent abdominal pain appear, the cancer is often well advanced. (Also read: Not to be underestimated: this is how you recognize the first symptoms of colorectal cancer)
The risk is increased for certain diseases
Different methods are available in Germany for colorectal cancer screening. They are recommended for men without previous illnesses and without a genetic risk from the age of 50. Even if colorectal cancer mainly occurs in older age, everyone should have symptoms such as abdominal pain or persistent changes in stool and flatulence clarified promptly. This is especially true for blood in the stool.
The risk of colon cancer is increased if someone has an intestinal disease such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis. If colon cancer or other tumors have already occurred in your own family, the risk may also be increased. In such a case, you should seek medical advice when and at what intervals it makes sense to have colorectal cancer. (Wayne Carpendale on his family history of colon cancer)
Right to a bowel examination or a colonoscopy
Men without an increased risk of colon cancer are entitled to an annual test for blood in the stool or to a colonoscopy every ten years from the age of 50. Although it may sound more pleasant to give a stool sample at first, colonoscopy has some advantages. “The chair test is very sensitive,” says Frieling. That is why so-called false-positive results often occur. The test shows a positive result even though one person is not ill. “If the test is noticeable, a colonoscopy is necessary anyway for clarification,” says Frieling.
A colonoscopy, which is also called colonoscopy, is not only much more accurate than a stool test, it has another advantage: If the doctors discover precursors of cancer, they can remove these so-called polyps directly or take samples from places that affect them appear striking. “Cancer in the intestine usually develops very slowly,” says the expert. Before a tumor forms, characteristic growths of the mucous membrane with which the intestine is lined almost always occur. Cancer can develop from these polyps over time. It is therefore important to remove them early.
Colonoscopy takes about 15 to 45 minutes
The procedure for a colonoscopy is always similar: a doctor inserts a thin tube (colonoscope) into the cleaned colon, which transfers images to a monitor. The procedure takes around 15 to 45 minutes, depending on how far it is reflected and whether the mucous membrane is being removed.
With an colonoscopy, it is important that the intestine is as clean as possible so that the intestinal mucosa and possible changes are visible. For this reason, patients must first lax and observe some behaviors. It is best to discuss the recommended preparation for colonoscopy with your doctor. (Also interesting: Six questions to the urologist, which are embarrassing to many men)
Pay attention to the nutrition before the colonoscopy
Basically, you can eat almost anything up to the day before the colonoscopy. However, you should avoid nuts and small grains, such as those found in muesli. Fruit with small seeds, such as grapes, should not be on the menu before a colonoscopy. They can block the view of the intestinal mucosa.
The day before the colonoscopy, patients are usually allowed to have a light breakfast. At noon a clear broth is allowed without any insert, the dinner should be omitted. In individual cases, however, this also depends on how late the examination is the following day.
Drink a lot to drain
After that, it is important that the colon is cleaned. “Removal is now much more pleasant than before,” says the expert. Initially, patients had to drink several liters of a laxative fluid, such as Glauber’s salt. Nowadays other means are used.
It is important to drink plenty of fluids so that the intestines are flushed out. All drinks that color, such as coffee, black tea or red fruit juices, are taboo. In addition to water, herbal tea is therefore cheap. The rule of thumb is that you have drunk enough to be drained if the stool is not only liquid, but looks bright and clear.
After colonoscopy, you can go back home
Colonoscopy is usually performed on an outpatient basis. General anesthesia is usually not necessary. However, many patients are given a sleep injection for the procedure. After the examination, they may go home – but must be picked up if they have received a sleep injection. Until the next morning you shouldn’t drive a car, sign a contract or work. On the other hand, you can eat again after a colonoscopy. (Read here about the side effects of sleeping pills)
In most cases, the doctor informs the patient of the result immediately after the procedure. “If samples are taken from the mucous membrane, however, it can take a few days for the result to be available,” says Frieling. If everything is inconspicuous and you are not a risk patient, the next colonoscopy will only come back ten years later.
Other methods of prevention
Incidentally, other methods of intestinal examination for prevention are not recommended. For example, there is also a capsule colonoscopy, in which patients swallow a small capsule that takes pictures as it travels through the intestine. “This method has proven to be less sensitive,” warns the expert.
So-called virtual colonoscopy is also possible, in which images of the intestine are taken with a CT device. It is also rather not recommended for prevention. As with conventional colonoscopy, patients have to lax and also have to consume a contrast medium before the examination. The method is not as accurate as endoscopic colonoscopy. In addition, no polyps can be removed and tissue samples cannot be taken. “Therefore, CT colonoscopy is only recommended if conventional mirroring is not possible,” says Frieling. (You can find out more about men’s health here)