What is a Colonoscopy?
A colonoscopy is a screening procedure during which a doctor uses a long, flexible scope to examine the lining of the colon in search of abnormalities, such polyps. During a colonoscopy, abnormal tissue can be removed and tested for cancer.
If you're 50 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 50, both men and women should follow a colorectal cancer screening schedule. Individuals should talk with a physician to determine their most appropriate screening options.
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 every 10 years.
- CT colonography (virtual colonoscopy) every 5 years*
Tests that Primarily Find Cancer
- Yearly fecal occult blood test (gFOBT)*,** checks for hidden blood in three consecutive stool samples, should be done every year.
- Yearly fecal immunochemical test (FIT) every year*,**
* If the test is positive, a colonoscopy should be done.
** Multiple stool take-home tests should be used. One test done by the doctor in the office is not adequate for testing. A colonoscopy should be done if the test is positive.
If you are 50 or over, it is recommended that you have a screening colonoscopy. Take the first step by finding a provider.
Find a Gastroenterologist