Colonoscopy is a remarkable tool. It can find cancer inside your colon or rectum. But it can also find polyps before they have a chance to become cancer. You might need a colonoscopy for other reasons.
Why Is a Colonoscopy Done?
A colonoscopy examines the large intestine. Doctors use it to look for:
- Abnormal growths, such as polyps or cancer
The doctor uses a colonoscope: a small, lighted camera inside a soft, flexible tube. The procedure usually lasts from 30 minutes to an hour.
The procedure can:
- Detect and treat colon cancer or colon polyps
- Take tissue samples for testing
- Stop intestinal bleeding
- Monitor inflammatory bowel disease treatment
What Happens During a Colonoscopy Procedure
You'll be under anesthesia. So you won't be awake. You'll lie on your left side. The doctor will insert the colonoscope through your rectum, inject air, then gently pass the scope through your colon.
The doctor will then:
- Examine the lining of the colon
- Remove tissue samples or polyps, if necessary
Polyp Removal: Stops Cancer Before It Starts
During a colonoscopy, a doctor can snip off polyps.
Larger polyps may require a minimally invasive surgical procedure.
Your polyps are then sent to a lab for testing. The results will show if this type of polyp could have turned into cancer.
During the procedure, you may feel:
- Muscle spasms
- Lower abdominal pain
- The urge to move your bowels
Tell the doctor if you feel any severe pain.