Is virtual colonoscopy, using a CT scan, an effective way of diagnosing colon cancer? And, should everyone get screened?
The simple answer to both of these important questions is YES. While some individuals would benefit more from a traditional colonoscopy, a virtual one is an effective screening tool. And, according to experts and the American Cancer Society, both men and women should have regular screenings, typically beginning at ages 45-50.
These are standards that may vary if you have a strong family history of colon cancer. For patients who have generations of cases of colon cancer, you will likely want to have a traditional colonoscopy performed as opposed to a virtual one. You may also want to begin screenings at a younger age or have them more often. Both strategies will help you be more proactive in monitoring your health and acting in a timely manner if or when necessary.
Traditional vs. Virtual
A traditional colonoscopy involves a gastroenterologist inserting a tube into the rectum to take photos and see things in the colon. The physician is looking for things like polyps (masses of cells) that should not be in the area. In this method of screening, the surgeon can usually remove any polyps that are present or extract tissue for biopsy if there is concern.
A virtual colonoscopy is performed by CT scan. It takes pictures of what is in the body like a traditional colonoscopy, but the technician cannot do anything to remove any polyps they may see making it a proper screening tool, but less preventative than a full colonoscopy. They are usually less expensive so for some insurance companies, that makes this screening attractive. One thing to keep in mind if you opt for this method is that you may have to schedule a follow up procedure. In essence, you can find polyps and cancer with a virtual colonoscopy, but it would only be the first step.
As with many cancers, early detection is key for long-term health and survival. Symptoms of colon cancer like gas, bloating, and abdominal pain can often be blamed on something else and colon cancer can grow very quickly, so being sure you have regular screenings is an important tool for prevention. If colon cancer is found at early stages, treatment can be effective. Causenta’s Founder & CEO Dr. Tom Incledon has seen colon cancer progress from unseen or a small mass to Stage IV in just months.
While colon cancer occurs more often in men, it is still important that women have regular colonoscopies (traditional or virtual) as well. It is good to know your family history with colon cancer so that you can decide how often and when to start your screenings. Some of this may also be dependent of what your insurance will cover and the cost of various tests, but ultimately, these screenings can save your life.
If you are interested in learning more about colon cancer treatment with Causenta, schedule a free 30-minute consultation.
About the Author
Dr. Thomas is the founder and CEO of Causenta Wellness, and the Causenta Cancer Treatment Center in Arizona. From working with NFL, MLB, MMA, World Class athletes and even the White House, his reputation of personalized medicine and cutting-edge technologies has put him on the map, caring for some of the most powerful people in the world, making him one of the most sought-after healthcare professionals of all time.