A colonoscopy is used to screen for col­orec­tal can­cer even before there are symp­toms. Begin­ning at age 50, men and women should have a com­plete colonoscopy every 10 years or as indi­cat­ed by your physi­cian based on colonoscopy results.

Impor­tant: You may need to begin peri­od­ic screen­ing colonoscopy ear­li­er than age 50 years if you have a per­son­al or fam­i­ly his­to­ry of col­orec­tal can­cer, polyps or long-stand­ing ulcer­a­tive colitis.

A colonoscopy allows your gas­troen­terol­o­gist to view the inner lin­ing of your large intes­tine which includes both your colon and rec­tum to search for ulcers, polyps (pre­can­cer­ous growths), tumors or inflaM­ma­tion. A thin, flex­i­ble tube called a colono­scope is used to explore the large intes­tine. This tube has a small video cam­era attached, allow­ing your doc­tor to view the colon clear­ly and take video and pic­tures dur­ing the procedure.

If sus­pi­cious growths such as polyps are found, they can be removed dur­ing the colonoscopy pro­ce­dure and tis­sue sam­ples can be tak­en for fur­ther analysis.

A colonoscopy typ­i­cal­ly takes between 15 — 60 minutes.

Learn more about prepar­ing for a Colonoscopy.