“Among cancers, colon cancer stands out as a disease that can be largely prevented, but few people believe it will happen to them,” said Dr. Atenodoro Ruiz, Jr., a gastroenterology consultant at The Medical City and a diplomate of the American Board of Internal Medicine in Gastroenterology and of the Philippine College of Physicians in Internal Medicine.

“The small intestine also breaks down the food and absorbs most of the nutrients. It leads to the large intestine (also called the large bowel or colon),” the ACS explains. “The colon absorbs water and nutrients from the food and also serves as a storage place for waste matter. The waste matter moves from the colon into the rectum, the last 6 inches of the digestive system. From there, the waste passes out of the body.”

In the past, CRC has been referred to as “a disease of the rich.” But such is not the case anymore. “(CRC) is more common in richer countries, but its incidence is rising in some developing countries,” the Geneva-based World Health Organization (WHO) reports. “The risk of developing those cancers that are typical of higher socioeconomic groups – cancers of the breast, colon, and rectum – can be expected to increase with economic development.”

Change in bowel habits such as diarrhea, constipation, or narrowing of the stool that lasts for more than a few days; feeling that you need to have a bowel movement that is not relieved by doing so; rectal bleeding or blood in the stool; cramping or steady abdominal (stomach area) pain; decreased appetite; weakness and fatigue; and jaundice (yellow-green discoloration of the skin and white part of the eyes).

I had my schedule at 9:30 in the morning so together with my sister, Evangeline T. Capuno, we went to the hospital an hour earlier. There was one ahead of us at the hospital endoscopy unit. When the nurse saw me, she asked me to go to a room where I could change my clothes for the screening. After that, she had me lied down in a bed and placed a dextrose in my right hand.

Colonoscopy is very safe but some doctors caution there is a slight chance for problems from a colonoscopy. The scope or a small tool may tear the lining of the colon or cause bleeding. This must be the reason why suggests that those who undergo colonoscopy should call their doctor immediately if, after the test, they: have heavy rectal bleeding, have severe belly pain, develop a fever, are very dizzy, are vomiting, and have a swollen and firm belly.

Aside from colonoscopy, other screening tests for colon cancer include barium enema X-rays, sigmoidoscopy, stool tests, and computed tomographic colonography. Which screening test you choose depends on your risk, your preference, and your doctor. “Be sure to talk to your doctor about what puts you at risk and what test is best for you,” Dr. Velasco reminds.

If you are wondering what the result of my colonoscopy was, here’s the report: “The procedure was done under IV sedation with no untoward complication. Greenish, watery fecal material was seen over the sigmoid colon and the descending colon, which was removed by saline flushing and suctioning. The cecal pole was reached; unremarkable mucosa from the cecum/ileocecal valve down to the rectosigmoid colon save for few, diminutive polyps seen over the rectum/distal sigmoid, removed by cold biopsy forceps. Incidental finding of dilated venous columns above the dentate line.”