Precautionary colonoscopy

Prevent colon cancer, use your chance! Colon cancer can affect anyone.

Colon cancer occurs much more frequently than you would think! Every year approx. 60,000 people in Germany are diagnosed with colon cancer and approx. 26,000 people die from it. In the course of their lifetime 5 out of 100 people in Germany are diagnosed with colon cancer. That is one in twenty. Women and men are equally affected. In its frequency, colon cancer ranks second place for both sexes, combined, colon cancer is the most prevalent type of cancer in Germany!

These figures are even more alarming because colon cancer – contrary to lung cancer for instance – can virtually be completely prevented or healed by means of early diagnosis.

If you have a precautionary medical check-up, you significantly reduce your risk of getting colon cancer!

In which cases is a precautionary colonoscopy particularly important?

  • as a matter of principle, if you are 55 or older
  • you already had a malignant disease
  • you are a smoker
  • there have already been cases of intestinal polyps, colon cancer or the like in your family
  • you suffer from chronic inflammatory intestinal disorders

Attention:

In the event of the following disorders, a colonoscopy is recommended irrespective of age:

  • blood in the stool, stool alterations
  • alternating stool conditions (diarrhoea, constipation, etc.)
  • indistinctive abdominal pain
  • loss of weight
  • indistinctive iron deficiency
  • possible genetic disposition (several family members with colon cancer, abdominal cancer, bladder/kidney or skin cancer)

As of the age of 50, the frequency of annual illnesses increases significantly. Colon cancer usually begins spontaneously and develops very slowly and unnoticed during a time period of up to 10 years. It normally develops from benign growths (polyps) on the intestinal mucosa. These polyps can be removed for many years without any complications before their possible degeneration. Consequently, there are very good chances of recovery if the disease is detected on time. The development of colon cancer can be prevented by nearly 100% with a colonoscopy and if necessary with the simultaneous removal of the polyps. Furthermore, a survival and a complete recovery are also still possible if the cancer is diagnosed at a very early stage.

Therefore, the public health care providers have established the precautionary colonoscopy as a service they provide since 2002. Every insured person as of the age of 56 is entitled to this examination free of charge (many health insurance companies even offer bonus points for their insured as an additional motivational aid). In doing so, the insured person can contact a specialist without a referral and is exempt from paying the practice fee. Private health care providers pay for the costs for the precautionary colonoscopy at any time. In families in which colon cancer has occurred at young ages (younger than 50), the family members (first degree relatives) should be examined early on because there is a higher risk of cancer in this case.

Medical technology, the examination methods and the experience of the examiners have continued to develop significantly during the course of the past years. Today, a colonoscopy is an examination of the intestines with a mobile, approximately 10 mm thick flexible hose (endoscope/colonoscope) on the end of which a mini camera is located. In nearly all cases, the examination is experienced as completely painless. If required, tissue samples can be taken or intestinal polyps and other things can be removed painlessly. A sedative is not necessarily required for a colonoscopy but it can be administered upon request. The intestines are cleansed using laxatives before the colonoscopy. The patient takes these on the evening before the examination.

According to currently available data records, a colonoscopy is the most efficient method today to prevent colon cancer.

The modern M2-PK test examines substances from the stool, which are additionally formed by tumours. Preliminary stages of colon cancer, the so-called polyps, are not recorded with this test. This test is not recommended by the German Society of Digestive and Metabolic Diseases (German: DGVS) as a precautionary measure. Consequently, the costs are not paid for by the health insurance companies.

The same is the case with the increasingly propagandised method of the virtual colonoscopy (portrayal of the intestines by means of CT or MRT). With this X-ray examination technology, there are difficulties in recognising small or flat polyps as well as in differentiating between polyps and remainders of dejection. If a polyp is suspected, a colonoscopy must be conducted as a secondary examination for reasons of safety and removal. At the same time there is significant radiation exposure and the preparation must be carried out with the same laxative as for the colonoscopy.

A gastroenterologist can conduct a colonoscopy without any problems, with a low risk and because of the option of being administered a sedative, without a great amount of stress. The risk of severe complications such as of a colonic perforation is very low (approx. 0.03 %). In our practice, there has never been a case of colonic perforation despite the approx. 60,000 documented colonoscopies we have performed.

Extensive statistics even show that 30 % of all persons examined have polyps. In the case of normal findings, the colonoscopy should be repeated after 10 years. After the removal of a polyp, a check-up is usually recommended after approx. three years.

Appointments, further information

You can make appointments in our practice during the office hours. The waiting period for a precautionary colonoscopy is approx. 2 weeks. In the event of acute discomfort, blood in the stool or the like, the examination is conducted immediately or within a couple of days. Our practice team is more than happy to answer any other questions you may have at any time either personally or by phone.