Colorectal cancer is the fourth most common type of cancer and the second most common cause of cancer deaths in the US. Having regular screenings beginning at age 50 can reduce your risk of developing colorectal cancer.
Colorectal Cancer Screening
A colonoscopy is an important tool to screen for colorectal cancer and is routinely recommended for adults age 50 and older. Your doctor may recommend a colonoscopy if you experience other problems, including:
- Changes in bowel habits
- Bleeding from your rectum
- Blood in your stool
- Symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease, such as colitis or Crohn’s disease
- Colon tumors or polyps found during another test or exam
- Personal or family history of colon polyps or cancer
Learn more about colon cancer and colorectal screening at www.cancer.org or www.cdc.gov/cancer/colorectal.
What to Expect
Before your colonoscopy, you will need to clean out your colon so that it can be properly examined. Your doctor will provide you with instructions for how to prepare for your exam.
During a colonoscopy, your gastroenterologist or general surgeon will use a flexible tube with a lighted end called an endoscope to visually examine your colon and rectum for abnormalities. You will receive a sedative before the procedure.
If abnormal tissue or a polyp is found, your gastroenterologist or general surgeon may be able to remove it or take a small tissue sample called a biopsy. Your tissue samples may be taken to a lab for analysis to determine if you need any additional studies or tests. In most cases, you can return home within a few hours after your procedure.