Early detection of colon cancer
Colon cancer is one of most common cancers in men and women combined, and has the second-highest rate of cancer deaths. The chances of survival of colon-rectal cancer mostly depend on early diagnosis.
There are different methods of preventing colon cancer. One of these is colonoscopy, which is an endoscopic examination.
The intestine is divided on two parts: the small intestine, measuring 6 m long; and the large intestine or colon, which is 150 cm long. The most frequent and serious pathology is located on the colon or large intestine, which is the last area of the intestine before it reaches the anus.
To diagnose colon cancer we use an endoscope, which is an instrument of around 150 cm long, equipped with a camera on one end and controls on the other, which enable us to handle and direct it every step of the way.
The colonoscopy includes a camera and cold light in order to illuminate the inside of the colon. This camera is connected to a high resolution TV screen so that we can see where the end of endoscope is located, allowing us to identify even the smallest of lesions.
One of the main differences of using an endoscope compared to other techniques is that it includes an additional channel to allow the entry of medical instruments or manipulators with which we can perform surgery, as well as taking biopsies, removing polyps, cauterising the remains of tumours, expanding stenoses or placing prostheses. These instruments are managed from outside, but act inside the patient.
Colonoscopy allows us to carry out therapeutic interventions at the same time as performing exploratory tests, especially colonic polypectomy. Patients are not exposed to radiation during colonoscopy.
Complications are rare. The main complications that can occur are bleeding, infection and gastrointestinal perforation, as well as abdominal discomfort due to the inflation of the colon.
At Clínica Planas, a colonoscopy requires one day’s hospitalisation and is performed under sedation.
It is not required
If a colon cancer it is diagnosed in its early stages, healing percentages can be up to 100%.
One of most innovative techniques used at Clínica Planas is a new generation endoscopic capsule to examine the colon, called PILLCAM 2.
PILLCAM is an intelligent capsule specially designed for the examination of the large intestine or colon. Physicians can also use it to examine the oesophagus, stomach and small intestine. Its precise images enable doctors to diagnose tumours and polyps.
The colon capsule measures 10 x 30 mm and is equipped with two cameras located on each end. It provides a 360º view and captures images up to 35 frames per second, enabling the creation of a smooth, continuous video. It also detects bleeding points and can estimate the size of the polyps on the colon. As we know, colorectal cancer arises from colon polyps.
Comparative studies with colonoscopy show a high sensitivity and specificity in detecting lesions.
The capsule also has a battery and a light, which can transmit 35 images per second for 10 hours. Images are sent to a belt located on the patient’s abdomen and are downloaded later via a software programme. The belt includes a small screen, which allows us to see the location of the capsule in real time.
This technique is performed on outpatient basis. Although it does not provide for performing therapeutic interventions at the same time as examination, this technique does not require sedation, intubation or air insufflation. Furthermore, patients can carry out their normal daily activities while the capsule “travels” inside their bowel. It is especially suitable for patients who are carrying out other tests for the general medical exam.
Capsule endoscopy is personal, disposable and is rejected by excretion after the tests. It consists of an intelligent capsule that knows when it has to speed up or reduce its rate of images per second. When it arrives in the stomach, the capsule detects that it is located in a large cavity and reduces its performance to seven images per second. Once it arrives in the small intestine, it identifies that it is in a smaller cavity and sends a message to the receptor belt.
Prevention, comfort and viability
Capsule endoscopy is ideal for patients who meet the suitability criteria and who are interested in a medical check up but are unwilling to undergo traditional colonoscopy or sedation. It is also used for patients who have had an incomplete colonoscopy or who are contraindicated for colonoscopy. It is therefore a perfect alternative for the diagnosis of colon pathology, without the risks associated with colonoscopy.