What is a colonoscopy?
A colonoscopy (co-lin-aws-cah-pee) is a common medical test. It may be given to look for early signs of cancer of the colon and rectum or to help diagnose certain medical conditions.
During the test, your doctor will put a thin, flexible, lighted tube, called a colonoscope, into your rectum and colon. The colonoscope lets your doctor take pictures and look at the lining of your colon.
Why does my doctor want me to have a colonoscopy?
Your doctor needs to know if there are any problems in your colon or rectum. During a colonoscopy, your doctor will check your colon and rectum to see if there are any polyps (small growths) or other irregularities.
I don’t feel anything. Why do I need to be checked for colon cancer?
Very often, people don’t feel anything in the early stages of colon cancer. That is why your doctor may want you to have a colonoscopy now. This test may help save your life. One of the purposes of a colonoscopy is to help your doctor look for signs of colon cancer. If there is cancer in your colon or rectum, the earlier your doctor can find and treat it, the better.
What happens during a colonoscopy?
First, your doctor will give you medicine to help you relax. Then you will lie on your side or back. Your doctor will slowly and gently put a thin, flexible tube into your rectum and up through your colon.
Will I feel anything?
Your doctor will give you medicine before the test. That way you will feel less discomfort. You may, however, feel some pressure, bloating, or cramping during the test.
How long will it take to do the test?
The test itself usually takes less than an hour. Then you will have to rest for a while until the effects of the medicine wear off. Just to be safe, do not plan to drive yourself home after your test. Ask a loved one or friend to go with you on the day of your test. Before leaving, your doctor will talk with you about your test and will let you know when you can go back to eating your regular diet.