Colonoscopy Overview
Colonoscopy is the most common endoscopic procedure performed by gastroenterologists. The procedure involves visually inspecting the colon with a flexible videoscope. Colonoscopy is the gold-standard for colon cancer screening. Studies show that gastroenterologists are the most proficient at this procedure.

Why get a colonoscopy?
The primary reason to get a colonoscopy is to look for colorectal cancer or polyps. The American Cancer Society, the American College of Gastroenterologists, and the American Gastroenterological Association recommend routine colonoscopy for people age 50 and older who have normal risk for colorectal cancer. If the person has a higher risk for colorectal cancer, then a doctor may recommended more frequent testing. Other reasons for a colonoscopy include:
  • Anemia
  • Bloody stool
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Unexpected weight loss
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Abdominal pain

What can a colonoscopy detect?
Colonoscopy is the only test that is both diagnostic and therapeutic for the entire colon. Therapeutic techniques include biopsies, polyp removal, and cautery of bleeding sites.

During a colonoscopy, the physician may remove growths, called polyps, for testing by a pathologist. While polyps are typically benign, most colorectal cancer begins as a polyp. Colonoscopy has been proven to significantly reduce a patient's risk of colon cancer.

Colonoscopy Frequently Asked Questions
Q. Does a colonoscopy hurt?
A. The patient does not usually experience any pain during a colonoscopy. The patient is sedated by an anesthesiologist whose primary concern is the patient's comfort and safety. The gastroenterologist may then focus on the endoscopic procedure and carefully analyze the lining of the colon.

Q. When should I have a colonoscopy?
A. If a person has no colorectal symptoms, he or she will typically have his or her first colonoscopy at age 50. There are more specific recommendations for higher-risk people. A primary care physician or a gastroenterologist can recommend specific guidelines based on family history.

Q. Are routine colonoscopies important?
A. Yes, colonoscopy is the primary way to screen for colon cancer. Colon cancer screening helps people stay healthy and stay alive. 90% of colon cancer occurs in individuals over the age of 50, which makes routine colonoscopies important. The lifetime risk of developing colon cancer for persons living in the United States is approximately 6%.

The content on this website is for informational purposes only. The information on this website is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from a qualified medical professional. Always seek the advice of your qualified medical professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.