virtual colonoscopy

  1. Fast colonoscopies miss more precancerous cells

    Six minutes that can save your life

    Three minutes versus six minutes. It may not sound like much of a difference at all -- either way, it's just a few minutes. But when it comes to colonoscopy, the difference between three minutes and six minutes could be the difference between life and death.

    Six minutes is considered the gold standard for "withdrawal time," or the amount of time it takes to pull the scope from the colon. That's when the doc looks for precancerous cells and growths, and removes polyps.

    But some docs cut corners -- maybe they're overconfident, or maybe they just have lunch reservations -- and pull out faster, flying through the procedure in just three minutes.

    Well, you know what happens when you hurry, right? You miss things -- and docs who speed through the procedure in three minutes miss more than twice as many polyps and nearly double the amount of precancerous cells and adenomas in the colon as docs who take the full six minutes, according to new research.

    Now, I don't think you need a study to know you want a doctor willing to put a few extra minutes into your colon and locating precancerous cells.

    The problem, of course, is that most people are under anesthesia during a colonoscopy -- so you don't really know how much time your doc spent hunting for polyps.

    That means you have to do a little homework before choosing a doctor -- and don't be afraid to ask him some questions, like how much time he typically spends looking for polyps. Most doctors -- good ones anyway -- can tell you, probably down to the second.

    And along with choosing the right doctor, make sure you choose the right procedure -- a real colonoscopy instead of a virtual one. I know virtual procedures may sound better, but patients actually report more comfort and less pain during and after a real colonoscopy. Just as important, with virtual colonoscopy you're exposed to unnecessary radiation and if a polyp or growth is formed you will still need a regular colonoscopy anyway.

    There's a lot of debate over many cancer screenings these days and which ones may or may not be necessary. But there's not much debate over colonoscopy. It's one of those areas where both mainstream and holistic physicians agree: These precancerous cells screenings save lives, so be sure to get one yourself.

  2. The one cancer screening that works

    Over screening for cancer is nothing short of a national disaster.

    PSA tests and mammograms have created a generation of men and women battling the lifelong side effects of devastating treatments they didn't need because the cancers never would have hurt them in the first place.

    But there's one screening that's different -- a screening that can detect a deadly cancer and remove it at the same time.

    And if you're like most people, it's the very one you've been avoiding: the colonoscopy.

    Now, a landmark new study in the New England Journal of Medicine shows why you shouldn't be avoiding yours. In fact, these findings may have you calling your doctor today to schedule it -- because data on 2,602 patients tracked for 15 years finds that colonoscopies can slash your risk of dying of colon cancer by 53 percent.

    But despite the fact that colonoscopies save lives, only half of the people who should get scoped actually do.

    It's not hard to see why. A colonoscopy sounds about as pleasant as...well...a colonoscopy.

    In reality, it's not nearly as bad as you'd think.

    Thanks to the anesthesia, you won't feel a thing during the procedure itself. The worst part is actually the night before, when you'll have to take a preparation that'll empty your bowels.

    All I can say is, get a good book and stay close to a toilet.

    To make it easier on you, schedule your colonoscopy for first thing in the morning. Since you can't eat until the procedure is done, you won't spend the day hungry -- and you won't spend the day stressing over it, either.

    But that's not the only reason you want to be the early bird on this one: Several studies have shown that doctors detect more polyps early in the day than they do in the afternoon.

    Finally, some doctors offer a less-thorough version of the colonoscopy called the sigmoidoscopy. Others will try to get you to pay extra for a "virtual" colonoscopy.

    Both of them may be tempting. They both might sound a little more comfortable and a little less invasive.

    Don't fall for it. When it comes to colon screenings, nothing beats the real thing: A genuine colonoscopy by a competent doctor.

    If you're past 50 and haven't had one or are overdue for your next one, no more excuses. Pick up the phone and schedule yours today.

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