Sigmoidoscopy vs. Colonoscopy
April 29, 2019

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According to the American Cancer Society, there will be an estimated 101,420 new cases of colon cancer and 44,180 new cases of rectal cancer this year. Given these numbers, it’s crucial that you undergo regular colorectal screenings. The team at Colon & Rectal Surgical Specialists of New York has numerous locations serving the Long Island area, which can help you get caught up on regular exams.

Dr. Dean P. Pappas and his fellow New York colorectal surgeons offer both sigmoidoscopy and colonoscopy to screen for polyps and assist with early colorectal cancer diagnosis. Many patients ask us what the difference is between these two types of diagnostic methods. Let’s compare the colonoscopy to the sigmoidoscopy below.

What Is a Colonoscopy?

A colonoscopy is a type of endoscopic examination of the entire colon. This is a sure way to check for any cancerous growths in the bowel. To perform a colonoscopy, patients will need to prep a day or two before. This process will involve a diet of clear liquids and ingesting a special solution to help clear the bowels.

Why Is a Colonoscopy Performed?

A colonoscopy is one of the most common methods of screening for colon cancer. It can also be performed to check other kinds of medical problems affecting the bowels, including injuries, tears, and hemorrhages. A colonoscopy is recommended for people every 10 years starting at age 50, though some people are getting colonoscopies earlier as a practical preventative measure.

What Is a Sigmoidoscopy?

A sigmoidoscopy is similar to a colonoscopy in that it involves the use of an endoscope to examine the bowel. The difference is that the sigmoidoscope does not check the entire colon. Instead, a sigmoidoscopy is performed to check the lower portion of the colon, predominantly the rectum and sigmoid colon.

Even though the sigmoidoscopy is not as extensive, patients will still need to prepare for the screening by cleansing their bowels and adhering to a diet of clear liquids the day before.

Why Is a Sigmoidoscopy Performed?

A sigmoidoscopy is performed if a person needs only the rectum and lower bowel to be examined. This can help identify underlying health conditions linked to rectal bleeding, changes in bowel function, intestinal problems, and rectal pain. If polyps or cancerous growths are found during a sigmoidoscopy, a colonoscopy is then recommended to check for any further growths and signs of cancer.

When Is One Type of Screening Preferable to Another?

For regular colon cancer screenings, the best option is a colonoscopy given its ability to fully check the colon for cancerous and precancerous growths. For other issues related to problems with bowel movements and rectal pain, a sigmoidoscopy is generally more prudent.

If you suffer from issues related to intestinal discomfort and changes in the function of your bowels, we encourage you to visit our practice for a consultation. We can determine which type of screening method is most ideal and then discuss the preparation process and procedure with you in greater detail.

Contact Colon & Rectal Surgical Specialists of New York

To learn more about screenings for colon and rectal cancer as well as other medical needs, we encourage you to contact our team of colorectal surgery specialists. You can reach our Long Island offices by phone at (516) 494-3027.