Endoscopy vs Colonoscopy: Understanding Colorectal Screening Methods

Colorectal cancer (CRC) develops in the colon or the rectum as noncancerous adenomas or polyps over many years. Precancerous growths can be removed to reduce the risk of colon cancer. Early detection and CRC screening can help prevent the growth of cancer if patients experience specific digestive issues. Understanding cancer screening methods can ease patients’ worries.

Mackinaw Surgery Center Colorectal Cancer Screening Endoscopy vs Colonoscopy

What’s the difference between an endoscopy and colonoscopy?

Technically, a colonoscopy is a type of endoscopy. An endoscopy is a nonsurgical procedure used to examine a person’s digestive system using a thin and flexible tube with a camera at the end. An upper endoscopy examines the stomach, esophagus, and small intestines. A colonoscopy is performed through the rectum to examine the rectum, large intestine, and colon.

Preparing for screening

Before an endoscopy or colonoscopy is performed, a doctor may perform blood tests on the patient. Doctors advise patients to come in on an empty stomach for an upper endoscopy. Patients are advised to perform a colon cleaning before a colonoscopy using enemas and laxatives, as well as maintaining a liquid diet a few days before the colonoscopy.

What happens during an endoscopy?

During an endoscopy, a doctor may administer a numbing spray into the throat, as well as pain medication to reduce the discomfort of the endoscope. Doctors may administer a mild or heavy sedative to keep patients asleep during the procedure. Doctors will insert the endoscope into the esophagus, stomach, and duodenum without affecting a patient’s breathing.

What happens during a colonoscopy?

During a colonoscopy, doctors may administer intravenous fluids. Sedatives are used to relax and sedate the patient while reducing pain. The colonoscopy may cause minor cramping and bloating in the abdomen. The colonoscope passes through the colon to the small intestine to examine the lining of the colon. A biopsy may be performed if the doctor finds any abnormal growth or bleeding.

Are there any risks?

An endoscopy and colonoscopy are safe operations with minimal risk of complications. An endoscopy may cause mild bleeding at the site of the biopsy or polyp removal, albeit, the bleeding doesn’t usually require further treatment. The enormous benefits of detecting colon cancer early far outweigh the rare risks of complications. For more information about when to start colorectal cancer screenings, speak with a healthcare provider.