Colonoscopy is a screening method used to detect colon cancer or find polyps, which are small growths that become cancerous. The lining of the large intestine is viewed through a colonoscope, which allows your doctor to inspect the entire large bowel and take pictures to examine. Colonoscopies are used to evaluate negative intestinal symptoms such as abdominal pain, bleeding, and chronic diarrhea.

Colonoscopies are recommended to adults at the age of 50 to detect colon cancer and should be performed every five years.


The purpose

A colonoscopy is a screening tool used to detect colon cancer or look for polyps—small growths that run a risk of becoming cancerous. The interior lining of the large intestine is viewed through a colonoscope which allows your doctor to visually inspect the entire large bowel. Colonoscopies can also be used to evaluate intestinal symptoms such as abdominal pain, bleeding, and chronic diarrhea. Colorectal cancer screening is the main purpose of a colonoscopy. At least 30,000 lives could be saved each year if screening increased.

Prepare for the procedure

Consume only clear liquids for the 24 hours before your colonoscopy, or the patient must consume a special cleansing solution or laxatives. For ample and correct results, the colon must be completely clean.  All medications should be disclosed to your doctor. Aspirin products, anticoagulants and clopidogrel —which are blood thinners—and insulin or iron medications are especially important to disclose. Medication allergies should also be mentioned to your doctor.

What to expect

To help relax the patient, the doctor will give a sedative or painkiller. The doctor will insert colonoscope and view the large intestine lining while you lie on your side. The colonoscopy takes typically no more than 30 minutes.

If your doctor finds anything that needs further evaluation, they will perform a biopsy. This is a procedure in which the doctor takes a small sample of your colon lining. They can also give medication or seal bleeds during a colonoscopy. Polyps—growths on the colon lining—can be addressed during your colonoscopy. Your doctor will remove polyps to analyze the potential of cancer. Catching malignant polyps early can stop the spread of cancer. Typically, polyps will be removed even if they are not cancerous.

Polyps can be removed painlessly by

  • Fulguration—burning
  • Snare polypectomy—using wire and electrical current

After the procedure

Post-procedure, all patients will be monitored until the sedatives have left your system. Your doctor will give you an explanation of the procedure and what additional procedures they performed, such as polyp removal or biopsies.