The best way to prevent bowel cancer is to have a screening colonoscopy.  A colonoscopy allows your doctor to look at the colon and to remove any polyps that might turn into cancer.

What is a colonoscopy?

A colonoscopy is a screening test that lets your doctor see the inner lining of the large intestine (colon).

A colonoscopy is useful, because it helps your doctor diagnose a range of colon problems that include:

  • Tumors
  • Polyps
  • Ulcers
  • Inflammation
  • Bleeding

Preparing for Your Colonoscopy

Getting ready for a colonoscopy

Before the test, you will be expected to prep your colon. The prep enables your doctor to have a clear view of your colon. Your doctor will give you instructions. The test can involve having a clear liquid diet, and having laxatives or enemas. Make sure you go over the instructions and understand them.

Having a Colonoscopy

Your doctor will view the colon

With a colonoscopy, a very thin tube with a tiny camera is used to view the colon. The test takes about a half-hour. If a polyp is found, your doctor likely will remove it. Your doctor also may take a biopsy of tissue that will be sent to a lab to be checked for cancerous or pre-cancerous cells.

People usually are given medicine to make them relaxed or sleepy during the procedure. Colonoscopies are not painful.

Sigmoidoscopy screening

What is a sigmoidoscopy?

A similar screening test is called the sigmoidoscopy. With a sigmoidoscopy, your doctor is able to see only a part of the colon and the entire rectum. The doctor will look for polyps and signs of cancer. Follow your doctor’s instructions to prep for the test.

The exam takes 10-20 minutes. It may not require sedation.

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