Going in for a colonoscopy is no fun. You take laxatives that send you to the bathroom continuously the day before. You’re uncomfortable for hours. You get sedated at the doctor’s office. A doctor laboriously snakes the scope into your intestines. You’re groggy all afternoon and you can’t take a shower for 24 hours. Then there’s worse news: If you didn’t prep properly before the colonoscopy, it was all a big waste of time.
Researchers from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have found that pre-cancerous lesions often go undetected during a colonoscopy because patients don’t empty out their colons sufficiently. According to researchers, doctors miss a pre-cancerous growth in about one-third of patients due to patient’s poor preparation. Senior author Dr. Jean S. Wang warns, “In order to see polyps or cancers, we really have to be able to clearly see the entire wall of the colon.”
Researchers studied patients over the course of five years and found that in one hospital more than 370 patients had not prepared adequately. By not cleansing, you run the risk of having a cancerous spot go undetected. “So it certainly is possible that any lesion we miss during a colonoscopy could develop into a malignancy before a person’s next colonoscopy, especially if (your next colonoscopy) doesn’t happen until 10 years later,” says researcher Reena Chokshi, M.D.