Colonoscopy and Colon Cancer Screening

When it comes to your health, your colonoscopy can’t wait. Find out what a colonoscopy is used for and what to expect before, during, and after a colonoscopy.

What is a colonoscopy?

A colonoscopy is an outpatient procedure that lets your doctor look at the lining of your large intestine (colon and rectum) for abnormalities, take a biopsy, or remove polyps (growths of tissue that are typically benign). They’re used to evaluate gastrointestinal symptoms like rectal and intestinal bleeding, abdominal pain, or changes in bowel habits.

Colonoscopies are a routine part of preventive care. They’re used to screen for colon cancer even in people who don’t have symptoms. This procedure can actually prevent cancer from developing because doctors can find and remove polyps before they become cancerous. If everyone got their recommended colonoscopy, 60% of colorectal cancer deaths could be prevented.

Colonoscopies are recommended for men and women 50 and older. Black men and women should get a colonoscopy when they are 45 because they have a higher risk of developing colorectal cancer. Black men and women are 20% more likely to get colorectal cancer and 40% more likely to die from it. If you have inflammatory bowel disease or a personal or family history of colorectal polyps or cancer, you also have a higher risk of developing colorectal cancer and may need to be screened sooner. 

What is a colonoscopy used for?

A colonoscopy is an effective way to diagnose and treat various symptoms and diseases:

  • Colon polyps
  • Colorectal cancer
  • Diverticulosis (bulging pouches in the digestive tract)
  • Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis
  • Bleeding
  • Abdominal pain
  • Obstruction

Your colonoscopy can't wait

Early detection is the key to preventing — and beating — colorectal cancer, the second-leading cause of cancer deaths in the U.S.

What to do before a colonoscopy

For this procedure to be accurate, your colon must be empty and clean. If your colonoscopy prep is not done correctly, you’ll need to reschedule your procedure.

First, you’ll take a prescription bowel cleanse to clean out your colon the day before your colonoscopy. Your doctor may recommend an advanced 2-day prep in certain situations. Make sure you follow all of the instructions provided by your doctor’s office and tell your doctor if you take any medications. Some medications might need to be changed prior to