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Caregiver Tips: It’s Best to Discuss Colonoscopy News Headlines With a Doctor

Elderly man with massive glasses isolated on white backgroundThere have been news stories and opinion pieces swirling around as of late about whether or not having a colonoscopy in California is still the way to go. Many of them were spurred by a series of articles that appeared in The New England Journal of Medicine in 2014. Some of the articles touted the benefits of other colorectal cancer screening tools, like Colorguard and fecal immunochemical tests. Additional conversations got started in the fall because a handful of radiologists began openly singing the praises of CT colongraphies. As a result of all the public debate, our Caregiver experts felt that it was imperative to join in the conversation and help clear up any misconceptions.

While it is true that there are more than a few ways to check for colorectal cancer, some of those tests have a very high margin of error. And when it comes to cancer screening, our caregiver experts know that errors often have grave consequences. Therefore, seasoned gastroenterologists typically find it best to consider the pros and cons of all colorectal cancer screening methods on a patient-by-patient basis, before making recommendations. This careful review of the patient’s health history and the current methods available sometimes leads to a multi-prong approach.

For example, a doctor may look at the results of a barium enema or lab work that indicates a person is suffering from rectal bleeding and unexplained anemia. In response, he or she may order a flexible sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy to check out and remove polyps. In other instances, he or she may hold off and order more lab work. The doctor’s goal, in any event, is to identify and remove any cancer from the person’s gastrointestinal system as early as possible.

To continue having this candid discussion and learn more about all of the colorectal cancer screening tools currently being highlighted in the national news, caregivers should consult with their patients’ gastroenterologists.

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