A Colonoscopy is a test that looks at the inner lining of a person's large intestine. The large intestine is also called the colon.
Often, people have a colonoscopy as a screening test to check for polyps or for cancer in the colon or rectum. Polyps are growths in the colon that might turn into cancer. If you have polyps, the doctor can usually take them out during the colonoscopy. Taking polyps out lowers your chances of getting cancer. People can also have colonoscopy if they have any of the symptoms listed below. Cancer screening tests are tests that are done to try and find cancer early, before a person has symptoms. Cancer that is found early often is small and can be cured or treated easily.
Doctors can use 5 or 6 different tests to screen for colon cancer. But most doctors think that colonoscopy is the best test to screen for colon cancer.
Doctors recommend that most people begin having colon cancer screening at age 45. Some people have an increased chance of getting colon cancer, because of a strong family history or certain medical conditions. These people might begin screening at a younger age.
Your doctor might order a colonoscopy if you have:
Your doctor will give you instructions about what to do before a colonoscopy. They will tell you what foods you can and cannot eat. They will also tell you if you need to stop taking any of your usual medicines beforehand. Make sure to read the instructions as soon as you get them. You might have to stop some medicines up to a week before the test.
The colon needs to be cleaned out before a colonoscopy. Your doctor will give you a special drink that causes watery diarrhea. It is important to drink all of it to make sure your colon is clean. If your colon is clean your doctor will get a better look at the inside lining of the colon. A clean colon also makes the test easier to do and more comfortable. Let your doctor know if you have trouble getting ready for your colonoscopy.
Your doctor will give you medicine to make you feel relaxed. Then they will put a thin tube with a camera and light on the end into your anus and up into the rectum and colon . Your doctor will look at the inside lining of the whole colon.
During the procedure, your doctor might do a test called a biopsy. During a biopsy, a doctor takes a small piece of tissue from the colon. Then they look at the tissue under a microscope to see if it has cancer. Your doctor might also remove growths that they see in the colon. You will not feel it if the doctor takes a biopsy or removes a growth.
Your doctor will give you instructions about what to do after a colonoscopy. Most people can eat as usual. But most doctors recommend that people do not drive or go to work for the rest of the day. Your doctor will tell you when to start taking any medicines you had to stop before the test.
Call your doctor or nurse immediately if you have any of the following problems after your colonoscopy: