Recommended screenings for digestive diseases
Ohio State's Wexner Medical Center offers a number of screenings for digestive disorders. The two most common are the colonoscopy, which examines the lower digestive tract, and the upper endoscopy, which examines the upper digestive system.
A colonoscopy checks your entire colon and rectum for abnormal growths or other problems. These may include polyps, which are removed during the colonoscopy, as well as ulcers and irritated/swollen tissues. Along with being recommended every 10 years after the age of 50, a colonoscopy is necessary if other tests show abnormal results. In addition to screening for cancer, it may also be performed to help diagnose the causes behind changes in bowel habits, abdominal pain, rectal bleeding and/or weight loss. Colonoscopies are essential in not only detecting cancer but also in pinpointing precancerous conditions. Colon cancer is highly curable if caught early; the best way to detect colon cancer is through a colonoscopy.
An upper endoscopy is a procedure used to visually examine the upper digestive system with a tiny camera on the end of a long, flexible tube. It can help diagnose the cause of abdominal pain, anemia, upper GI bleeding, nausea, vomiting, problems swallowing and unexplained weight loss. In addition to precancerous conditions and ulcers, an endoscopy can also locate abnormal growths; obstructions, including partial or complete blockage of the small or large intestine; gastric reflux; hiatial hernia; and inflammation/swelling of the GI tract lining. It can be used to obtain biopsies, remove objects (including food) that may be stuck in the upper GI tract and treat conditions such as bleeding ulcers.