What is a coloscopy? 

A colonoscopy is an exam that detects abnormalities and changes in the large intestine and in the abdomen.

How is it performed?  

Patients are either sedated or, in rare cases, given general anesthesia, to dull the amount of pain they feel.

A long, flexible tube is inserted into the rectum. A tiny video camera is attached to the tip so the doctor can view the inside of the colon.

If necessary, the doctor can remove polyps or other types of abnormal tissue, as well as take tissue samples. 

A colonoscopy will generally take about 30 to 60 minutes. 

How do I prepare the day before a colonoscopy? 

Doctors recommend that patients eat low-fiber foods that are easy to digest starting three to four days before the colonoscopy.

The day before the procedure, patients are not allowed to eat anything solid and can only consume clear liquids.

The night before the colonoscopy, patients have to take laxatives to make sure the digestive tract is clear.

When should I get a colonoscopy?

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends that all adults between ages 45 and 75 get screened for colon cancer.

Patients between ages 75 and 85 are recommended to speak to their doctors about when to get a colonoscopy.  

If the colonoscopy doesn’t find any signs of cancer, it should be done every 10 years. 

Why is it important to get a coloscopy?

Aside from skin cancers, colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer diagnosed in both men and women in the U.S.

An estimated 104,270 new cases of colon cancer and 45,230 new cases of rectal cancer are expected to be diagnosed in 2021.

It is the third leading cause of cancer deaths in men and in women, separately, and the second leading cause of cancer deaths when men and women are combined with 52,980 deaths expected in 2021. 

Sources: Mayo Clinic, American Cancer Society