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Sunday, December 13, 2015

15,000 Americans Die Every Year From Colonoscopies -- Are You At Risk?

15,000 Americans Die Every Year From Colonoscopies -- Are You At Risk?
Every year in the U.S. , 15 million colonoscopies are performed. About 15,000 die as a result of the procedure, which is a rate of 1 for every 1,000 procedures. Although that might not seem like a high death rate, no one wants to be a statistic. So, how can one prevent this from happening?

Why have a colonoscopy?

Colonoscopies are performed to check for colorectal cancer. Colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), almost 135,000 people were diagnosed with colon cancer in 2012, and more than 51,500 died from it.

Although death due to a colonoscopy is rare, according to Dr. Michael Greger, physician, author, and professional speaker on public health issues, about 1 in every 350 colonoscopies does end up doing serious harm. What most patients do not know is that doctors often recommend a colonoscopy, but there are actually 3 options available to test for colon cancer.

  • Fecal occult blood testing (FOBT) every year to check for signs of blood in the stool
  • Flexible sigmoidoscopy every five years
  • Colonoscopy every 10 years

How to choose

This is something one needs to discuss with their physician. Physicians should inform patients of the three options, and also give patients information on the risks involved in a colonoscopy, which includes:

  • Perforation of the colon
  • Dysbiosis and other gut imbalances caused by intestinal prep or flushing out required before the procedure
  • Complications from the anesthesia
  • Inaccurate results - The Prostate Cancer Foundation reports that 30 to 40 percent of men treated for prostate cancer have harmless tumors that would never have caused problems.

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