Need Help? 1-800-476-0016

Colonoscopy vs. Sigmoidoscopy: Doctors Can’t Make Up Their Minds

Published on , Last Updated on June 7, 2013

Colonoscopy vs Sigmoidoscopy

Recently, there has been quite a controversy regarding two different colon cancer screening methods. Patients are asking whether a colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy is better, and doctors just can’t seem to make up their minds.

First, let’s talk about the procedures themselves.

A colonoscopy involves inserted a lighted tube into the colon through the anus. A video camera is attached to the tube, allowing the doctor to see the entire length of the colon [1].

A sigmoidoscopy, on the other hand, involves using a sigmoidoscope which is inserted into the colon through the anus, allowing the doctor to search the inside of the rectum and the first third of the colon [2].

The main difference seems clear: Colonoscopies screen the entire colon, and sigmoidoscopies only screen a third of it. But why is it that doctors have such differing views about which of the procedures works best?

In a recent article on, Dr. John Abramson discussed why he believes that a colonoscopy isn’t the best way to screen for colon cancer. He stated that while colonoscopies allow the doctor to see more of the colon, this fact doesn’t necessarily “translate into a reduction in the incidence and mortality from cancer that is beyond the reach of a flexible sigmoidoscope [3].”

Furthermore, Abramson pointed out that while sigmoidoscopies must be repeated every five years, it still has many benefits including an easier preparation process, a lower price tag and its lower risks since it doesn’t require anesthesia, unlike colonoscopies. spoke with another doctor, who disagreed with Abramson. Dr. John Saltzman, the director of endoscopy at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, stands behind colonoscopies and believes they are the best way to screen for colon cancer.

“While sigmoidoscopy is cheaper and relatively quick, it has several significant disadvantages,” Saltzman stated. “It does not use sedation and can be an uncomfortable examination; what’s more, it only examines the bottom third of the colon, missing about half of the significant precancerous polyps and cancers.” He went on to point out that colonoscopies permit doctors to both examine the colon as well as remove any detected polyps in one session.

Until the medical community can come to agreement, there is one thing that they can agree on: any examination is better than none, especially once you hit the age of 50. If you have a personal history of colon cancer in your family, you’ll want to get checked earlier and more frequently. It would be wise to talk to your physician about what would be best for you.

-Dr. Edward F. Group III, DC, ND, DACBN, DABFM


  1. National Digestive Diseases Informaiton Clearinghouse. Colonoscopy. NIH Publication No. 10-4331. 2010 January.
  2. National Digestive Diseases Informaiton Clearinghouse. Flexible: Sigmoidoscopy. NIH Publication No. 09-4332. 2008 November.
  3. Deborah Kotz. Experts debate: what’s the best way to screen for colon cancer? 2011 March 24.

Recommended Reading:

Posted In: Colon Health,Colon Health Blog
Oxy-Powder® Detox/Cleansing Learn More Quick Help GHC on the Web
Follow us on the web:
Learn More
Quick Help
GHC on the Web
Follow us on the web:
Global Healing Center | 2040 North Loop West, Ste. 108 | Houston, Texas 77018
Telephone: 713-476-0016 | Toll Free: 1-800-476-0016 | Fax: 713-476-0017

DISCLAIMER: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

All testimonials and product reviews are authentic from actual customers. Documentation is available for legal inspection. Product reviews are within range of typicality.

Information and statements made are for education purposes and are not intended to replace the advice of your treating doctor. Global Healing Center does not dispense medical advice, prescribe, or diagnose illness. The views and nutritional advice expressed by Global Healing Center are not intended to be a substitute for conventional medical service. If you have a severe medical condition or health concern, see your physician. This Web site contains links to Web sites operated by other parties. Such links are provided for your convenience and reference only. We are not responsible for the content or products of any linked site or any link contained in a linked site. Global Healing Center does not adopt any medical claims which may have been made in 3rd party references.

© Copyright 1998 - 2017 | All Rights Reserved