Colonoscopy

A colonoscopy is an exam that allows a doctor to closely evaluate the inside of the entire colon, checking for polyps or signs of cancer. The exam itself takes about 30 minutes. The procedure involves a flexible tube with a camera on the end which is inserted into the rectum so the entire colon and rectum are examined. If polyps are found, they can be removed with tools attached to the flexible tube.

Patients are sedated during the colonoscopy, and most have no recollection of the procedure. More often, people feel bowel prep the night before is the worst part. The colon must be cleaned out prior to the exam.

Many people find having a colonoscopy a bit embarrassing, but having a colonoscopy could save your life. Just remember that people don’t die of embarrassment, but they could from colorectal cancer.

If you have symptoms, get screened. If you have a family history, get screened. If you don’t have symptoms or a family history and you’re 50 or over, get screened.

If the colonoscopy is normal (and no high risk individual/family risk factors exist) it should be repeated once every 10 years, though if polyps are found, colonoscopy needs to be repeated in 3-5 years after the initial colonoscopy depending on the size and type of polyps.


How do you know if you need a colonoscopy?
  • Are over age 50 without symptoms
  • Are over age 40 with a family history of colon cancer
  • Have a change in bowel habits
  • Have rectal bleeding
  • Have abdominal pain