Screening for colon cancer by undergoing a colonoscopy has been proven to save lives. But is there an easier way to detect precancerous colon polyps and tumors without patients having to go through a bowel preparation? Dr. Elizabeth Rajan, a Mayo Clinic gastroenterologist, is studying a new technology that may make the screening process easier for patients.
Colon cancer screening guidelines state that people at average risk of colon cancer should get screened starting at age 50. But Dr. Rajan says that only 60% of the population that should be screened actually undergoes screening.
She says some people avoid screening because they dislike the colon cleansing prep. She and her team are studying a new screening technology that gets rid of the need for patients to prep beforehand.
“It’s an ingestible capsule that has the capability of scanning the lining of the colon without a bowel preparation,” says Dr. Rajan.
The capsule creates images of the colon as it travels through your digestive tract. Patients first have a recorder and sensors placed on their back. After that, patients swallow the capsule and some liquid.
“Then they put on an electronic watch that they can look at to determine where the capsule is in their body. And that’s it. Then they pack everything up and head to their normal activity,” says Dr. Rajan.
The capsule passes through your digestive system in a couple of days. Dr. Rajan says the test may encourage more people to undergo lifesaving colon cancer screening.