What is a Colonoscopy?

Colonoscopy is able to detect early problems that could lead to colon cancer. Colonoscopy is the preferred test to detect and treat colon cancer, while other screening tests can detect colon cancer with further follow up treatment required.

This procedure is nothing to feel embarrassed about. Before the procedure, your physician may give you a mild sedative to keep you comfortable so that you do not feel any pain. In some cases, a stronger sedative may be used so that you can be asleep during the procedure. Complications are rare with colonoscopy procedures. However, as with any medical procedure, it is important to be aware of potential complications no matter how small the risk. You should call your doctor immediately if you experience severe abdominal pain, a firm, bloated abdomen, vomiting, fever, or bleeding following a colonoscopy.

What is a Colonoscopy?
What is a Colonoscopy?

The Procedure

During this test, your doctor will use a thin scope called a colonoscope to view your colon and rectum, looking for abnormalities like polyps. If there are any polyps or abnormalities present, your doctor may remove them or take a biopsy through the colonoscope. So, for just a few moments you won’t remember, your doctor and you can learn important information about your health and you can gain peace of mind for you and your family.

Alternative Tests

There are other methods of CRC screening. Your doctor can help you decide which test is right for you.

Below are some of the pros and cons of these screening tests.

Talk to your doctor about colorectal cancer screening today.

Find a Physician
Test
Pros
Cons
Flexible
Sigmoidoscopy
  • Fairly quick and safe
  • Usually doesn’t require full bowel prep
  • Sedation usually not used
  • Does not require a specialist
  • Done every 5 years
  • Looks at only about a third of the colon
  • Can miss small polyps
  • Can’t remove all polyps
  • May be some discomfort
  • Very small risk of bleeding, infection, or bowel tear
  • Colonoscopy will be needed if abnormal
Colonoscopy
  • Can usually look at the entire colon
  • Can biopsy and remove polyps
  • Done every 10 years
  • Can help find some other diseases
  • Can miss small polyps
  • Full bowel prep needed
  • Costs more on a one-time basis than other forms of testing
  • Sedation is usually needed
  • You will need someone to drive you home
  • You may miss a day of work
  • Small risk of bleeding, bowel tears, or infection
Double-Contrast
Barium Enema (DCBE)
  • Can usually see the entire colon
  • Relatively safe
  • Done every 5 years
  • No sedation needed
  • Can miss small polyps
  • Full bowel prep needed
  • Some false positive test results
  • Can’t remove polyps during testing
  • Colonoscopy will be needed if abnormal
CT Colonography
(Virtual Colonoscopy)
  • Fairly quick and safe
  • Can usually see the entire colon
  • Done every 5 years
  • No sedation needed
  • Can miss small polyps
  • Full bowel prep needed
  • Some false positive test results
  • Can’t remove polyps during testing
  • Colonoscopy will be needed if abnormal
  • Still fairly new   may be insurance issues
Guaiac-Based Fecal
Occult Blood Test (gFOBT)
  • No direct risk to the colon
  • No bowel prep
  • Sampling done at home
  • Inexpensive
  • Can miss many polyps and some cancers
  • Can produce false-positive test results
  • Pre-test diet changes are needed
  • Needs to be done every year
  • Colonoscopy will be needed if abnormal
Fecal Immunochemical
Test (FIT)
  • No direct risk to the colon
  • No bowel prep
  • No pre-test diet changes
  • Sampling done at home
  • Fairly inexpensive
  • Can miss many polyps and some cancers
  • Can produce false-positive test results
  • Needs to be done every year
  • Colonoscopy will be needed if abnormal
Stool
DNA Test
  • No direct risk to the colon
  • No bowel prep
  • No pre-test diet changes
  • Sampling done at home
  • Can miss many polyps and some cancers
  • Can produce false-positive test results
  • Should be done every 3 years
  • Colonoscopy will be needed if abnormal
  • Still fairly new – may be insurance issues
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