is Colorectal Cancer?
should I be screened for colon cancer?
is a colonoscopy?
is "virtual colonoscopy"?
are the drawbacks of optical colonoscopy?
are the benefits of having a virtual colonoscopy?
do so few people undergo optical colonoscopy screening?
are the risk factors I should be aware of for colon cancer?
can I help prevent colon cancer?
What is colorectal cancer?
The colon is a part of the digestive system, which removes nutrients from food and stores waste until it passes out of the body. The colon, or large intestine, is a 6-foot long muscular tube running from the end of the small intestine (the Cecum) to the rectum.
As the body develops, cells of all types form and create tissues and organs. When development is complete, this type of cell multiplication stops. New cells are produced only as needed.
If cells continue to grow without normal controls, and acquire the ability to invade other cells and tissue, a cancer develops. When this occurs in the lining of the colon, it is called colorectal cancer. Colorectal cancers most often begin as benign polyps that later develop into cancers.
Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in North America. More Americans die from colon cancer each year than breast cancer or AIDS. Over 50,000 patients die of the disease each year. Unfortunately less than 50% of Americans are tested for colon cancer which is over 90% curable when detected early, because the procedure is intrusive, time consuming, and potentially risky.
Why should I be screened for colon cancer?
Colorectal cancer is preventable with timely and accurate screening of the colon and subsequent removal of polyps that are of a certain type and size. Medical research indicates it takes up to 10 years for a polyp to grow to a size that results in the development of an invasive, deadly cancer. Our technology allows for the visualization of the polyps. Screening of average-risk individuals, 50 and over, can reduce mortality rates of colon cancer. Both men and women are at equal risk. Unfortunately, less than 50% of Americans are getting screened for colorectal cancer.
What is a colonoscopy?
A Colonoscopy lets the physician look inside a patient's colon (large intestine), from the rectum up through the colon to the lower end of the small intestine.
The physician inserts a long, flexible, lighted tube (a colonoscope or endoscope) into the rectum and slowly guides it through the colon. The scope transmits an image so the physician can carefully examine the lining of the colon. The scope also blows air into your colon, which inflates the colon and helps the physician see the colon wall. The procedure usually requires sedation and is conducted in a sterile environment. This procedure carries the risk of a perforation of the colon wall.
A new minimally-invasive and accurate procedure is now available without the discomfort associated with this type of exam. It's called Virtual Colonoscopy.
What is "virtual colonoscopy"?
Virtual colonoscopy (VC) may sound like something that belongs in the space age, but this innovative procedure has been undergoing clinical trials for over nine years. The procedure has been validated in several clinical trials and tens of thousands of patients have been screened using this technology.
You undergo a quick CT scan after a 24-hour preparation. During the CT scan, a flexible rectal tube (diameter of your pinky finger) is inserted only 2" into the rectum in order to distend the colon with carbon dioxide for the CT scan. No anesthesia is required, and you only have the feeling of being slightly bloated or having gas.
After the procedure is completed, the data from the CT scan is then processed into a 3-D image that enables the doctor to fly through the colon to look for any polyps. This procedure has been clinically proven to be just as accurate as the optical colonoscopy test for colorectal cancer screening. The patient can return to work immediately after the test is concluded.
What are the drawbacks of optical colonoscopy?
Before Virtual Colonoscopy became a reality, optical colonoscopy was the best exam for the screening and detection of polyps or colon cancer. However, there are a few drawbacks to this method that VC has answered:
Commonly, only 70% of the colon is viewed optically because the colonoscopy does not have the capability of turning around, or investigating behind every wall or curve.
There is a risk of perforating or damaging the colon walls
Sedation/anesthesia is necessary, causing a restriction of activity on the day of the procedure
The colonoscope is inserted through the entire length of the colon (about 5ft.)
Polyps that are smaller than 5mm in size are harder to detect behind folds in the colon wall
The procedure can be lengthy and is usually thousands of dollars
What are the benefits of having a virtual colonoscopy?
VC or CT Colonography is rapidly becoming the preferred method by both doctors and patients alike now that it has been proven to be accurate.
Procedure is minimally invasive with minimal risk
Colon polyps of any size can be viewed anywhere in the colon.
No anesthesia is required, normal activity can be resumed immediately after exam
The entire colon can be visualized
Quick exam - at an average only 15 minutes is required for the patient to be in and out of the CT room
Only between 5% to 8% of the asymptomatic patients being screened by this method are referred to Gastroenterologists for polyp removal
Area outside the colon ( lower abdominal to pelvic area) is also reviewed by the physician for any abnormalities.
Why do so few people undergo optical colonoscopy screening?
The vast majority of the people are unwilling to undergo an optical colonoscopy. Many because of the actual and perceived physical discomfort, the risks associated with this invasive endoscopic procedure, and the procedure's relatively high cost. Viatronix™ aims to change all this with its unique V3D ™-Colon by offering "virtual colonoscopy" as an alternative screening method that is quick, low cost and minimally invasive.
What are the risk factors I should be aware of for colon
The incidence of polyps increases with age as seen by the fact that approximately 90% of individuals with colorectal cancer are over the age of 50. This age category is the fastest growing segment of the U.S. population.,
Be aware of these risk factors:
Family history of colon cancer
A change in bowel habits
Detection of blood in the stool or rectal bleeding
Unexplained weight loss
Fatigue or anemia
Always consult your physician
How can I help prevent colon cancer?
Eating a healthy, well-balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables
Increasing your intake of high fiber foods
Avoiding excessive intake of fatty foods
Getting screened every 3-5 years for colorectal cancer
Restricting your intake of alcohol