What is a Colonoscopy?
A colonoscopy is a screening procedure during which a doctor uses a long, flexible camera to examine the lining of the colon in search of abnormalities, such as polyps. During a colonoscopy, abnormal tissue can be removed and tested for cancer.
If you're 45 or older, or if you have a family history, this screening test for colon cancer could save your life.
Colon cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer and the second leading cause of cancer death in men and women combined in the U.S. Despite its high incidence, colon cancer is one of the most detectable and, if found early enough, most treatable forms of cancer.
Colon cancer usually starts from polyps in the colon or rectum. A polyp is a growth that shouldn't be there and over time, some polyps can turn into cancer.
Screening tests can find polyps, so they can be removed before they turn into cancer. Screening tests can also find colon cancer early. When it is found early, the chance of being cured is good.
Who Should Have a Colonoscopy?
Beginning at age 45, both men and women should follow a colorectal cancer screening schedule. If you have a family history of colon cancer or colon polyps or a personal history of inflammatory bowel disease, you may require a colonoscopy sooner. Individuals should talk with a physician to determine their most appropriate screening options.
Patients who have symptoms (bleeding, abdominal pain, diarrhea, constipation, change in bowel habits) may need a diagnostic colonoscopy and should discuss with their physic/ian.
Tests that Find Polyps and Cancer
- Colonoscopy: physicians use a flexible, lighted tube (colonoscope) to look at the interior walls of the rectum and the entire colon, should be done at least every 10 years (interval may vary depending on findings and history)
- CT colonography (virtual colonoscopy) every five years*
Tests that Primarily Find Cancer
* If the test is positive, a colonoscopy should be done.
- Yearly fecal immunochemical test (FIT) every year*
- FIT-fecal DNA test (Cologuard) every 3 years*
If you are 45 or over, it is recommended that you have a screening colonoscopy. Take the first step by finding a provider.
FIND A GASTROENTEROLOGIST