May 12, 2023

The colonoscopy tradeoff: 30 minutes for a lifetime

The colonoscopy tradeoff: 30 minutes for a lifetime
Colorectal cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer worldwide – and is the third most common cancer in Abu Dhabi and worldwide. Unlike many other cancers, it’s preventable with regular screening. Despite how prevalent colorectal cancer is in the region, only a shocking 36% of people aged 40 and above undergo their regular screening. There’s a host of reasons for these statistics: 55% of Emiratis reported that they avoid screening due to fear of pain (the procedures are actually painless when done under anesthesia/sedation), the discovery of diseases and embarrassment. While these feelings are understandable, the importance of regular screening can’t be understated.

Who’s at risk?

Given that colorectal cancer is common, almost everyone is at risk and should get screened. While some risk factors can be controlled (such as diet and exercise) others cannot. While you can’t control risk factors such as having a family history, it doesn’t mean you’re destined to develop colorectal cancer; you can still screen regularly to detect the pre-cancerous polyps early. Changing lifestyle habits isn’t easy; you’ll have to learn to replace unhealthy choices with less harmful ones. But remember – the short-lived dopamine hit you get from tobacco, alcohol and processed food isn’t worth sacrificing your health.

Detect or prevent: a win-win situation

Even if you’ve never had a colonoscopy, you’re probably familiar with the term (one that’s usually considered a pretty awkward topic of conversation). Since symptoms of colorectal cancer don’t typically show until the disease has advanced to a less treatable stage, a 30-minute colonoscopy detects colorectal cancer at an early stage, which can actually prevent it. “There are real barriers and misconceptions that prevail when it comes to screening for this cancer, which is a true challenge”, says Dr. Michael Wallace,  consultant and chair of the Gastroenterology and Hepatology Division at SSMC, “however, if colorectal cancer is detected early, up to 95% of cases are curable. SSMC is one of the leaders in high-quality colonoscopy. We monitor all internationally accepted standards for excellence and also provide state-of-the-art technologies. Our FDA and UAE-approved Artificial Intelligence technology, known as GI Genius, significantly enhances our ability to safely detect the presence of pre-cancerous polyps in the colon, which reduces the risk of death by at least 50%.” No matter what the outcome of the colonoscopy is, you won’t regret it; you’ll either be relieved that potential signs of colorectal cancer were caught before they advanced, or have peace of mind in knowing that none exist.
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