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Gastrointestinal Endoscopy (cont.)

Gastrointestinal Tract Cancer and Digestive Endoscopy

Endoscopy is very important to detect early cancers developing from the mucous coverings in either the upper or lower tracts of the digestive tube. Colon cancers can develop if intestinal polyps are not removed. Polyps can grow until they become a cancer.

Several studies report that growth of these polyps may take as long as 10 years. People who are at low risk for cancer, or even have no symptoms, should schedule a colonoscopy every 3-5 years after age 50 years. Those who are high-risk should begin regular screening prior to age 40 years. The following conditions can put you at high risk for cancer.

  • HP (Helicobacter pylori) infections: H pylori bacteria are thought to cause gastric tumors. People who test positive for H pylori should be scheduled for an EGD every 1-2 years to detect early signs of cancer.

  • Bowel inflammatory diseases

  • Ulcerative colon inflammation

  • Family or personal history of GI cancer or cancer in other organs

  • Family history of developing glandlike polyps

  • People with gastroesophageal reflux disease, especially those who smoke and drink regularly and complain of chronic heartburn, are at high risk for a cancer of the esophagus-a dramatic and deadly disease. Cancer stems from chronic injury of the gastric juice on the mucous lining of your esophagus.

  • Changes in the lining of your esophagus (Barrett's esophagus) may be detected early in a person with chronic heartburn only by means of EGD, because this first change is detectable only by direct vision. These people should be scheduled for an EGD once or twice a year.
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