WEDNESDAY, May 7, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- Using a more comfortable method to check for colon cancer may help increase the number of people willing to be screened.
That's the suggestion of a Belgian study presented May 7 the American Roentgen Ray Society's annual meeting in San Diego.
Preliminary study results suggest a computed tomography colonography (CTC) can be done without a cathartic colon cleansing and still detect colon cancer in the early stages.
Conventional colonoscopy is currently considered the preferred technique for diagnosing colorectal cancer and its precursors. However, many people avoid having colonoscopy because it requires cathartic colon cleansing.
That cleansing process involves drinking a fluid -- polyethylene glycol -- which has a bad taste and causes the patient to have massive diarrhea. That leaves the patient feeling sick and exhausted.
The cleansing is done to empty and clean the patient's colon so the doctor performing the colonoscopy has a clear view of the colon and is able to spot any polyps.
To try and find a more comfortable alternative, the Belgian researchers had nine patients go on restricted food and liquid diets the day before they had CTC. The patients also drank varying amounts of barium, meant to "tag" fecal matter left in the colon.
The study found the reduced food and liquid intake reduced fecal volume and left the colon almost dry in each patient -- making it easier to detect polyps.
"Our results suggest that CTC can be done without cathartic cleansing. Some gastroenterologists say that if CTC could be performed without cathartic cleansing, it would have all the chances of becoming the screening method of choice," study author Dr. Philippe Lefere says in a news release.
Here's where you can learn more about colorectal cancer.