Everything You Need to Know About Colonoscopies

Everything You Need to Know About Colonoscopies

Colonoscopies are safe, effective, and easy — especially when patients follow proper preparation. They are the gold standard for gastrointestinal screening and can detect more than 95% of colon cancer cells and large precancerous polyps.


Colon cancer (or colorectal cancer) is the second leading cause of death among men and women in America. Still, it can often be prevented with regular screenings—screening tests such as a colonoscopy Denver can find and remove precancerous polyps before they become cancerous.

A colonoscopy involves inserting a long, flexible tube with a camera on the end (a colonoscope) into your rectum to look at your large intestine and rectum lining. The doctor may also use the procedure to remove a small amount of tissue for biopsy.

Everyone over age 50 should discuss getting screened for colon cancer with their primary care provider or gastroenterologist. Talk to your doctor about a schedule for screenings, especially if you have an inherited disease that raises your risk or you are experiencing symptoms such as unexplained weight loss or changes in bowel habits. Colon cancer screenings are covered by most medical insurance and Medicare plans.

Early Detection

While colon cancer is difficult to prevent, it’s highly treatable when detected early. Regular screenings can detect polyps that may become colon cancer and can be removed before it’s too late. According to the National Cancer Institute, almost 90 percent of people diagnosed with colon cancer in its earliest stages survive.

It’s important to talk to your doctor about getting screened if you have a family history of colon cancer, especially if you’re African American. Although there are other screening methods, like a flexible sigmoidoscopy or double-contrast barium enema, they don’t offer the advantages of a colonoscopy and require more frequent testing.


A colonoscopy is the best way to check for changes in your large intestine (colon). During a colonoscopy, your doctor inserts a long, flexible tube with a camera on the end of it into your back passage or rectum. This allows your doctor to view the lining of your large intestine and remove any polyps that may become cancerous over time. Your doctor can also remove a small piece of tissue for cancer testing.

You will need to follow very specific bowel prep instructions before your colonoscopy. This is often the most difficult part of the test because it requires you to drink a lot of unpleasant-tasting liquids and stay close to a toilet for days before your procedure.

Even though a recent study found that regular screening with a colonoscopy has only meager benefits — it doesn’t lower your risk of getting or dying from colorectal cancer — experts still recommend the procedure. They suggest that adults at average risk start routine colonoscopies by age 45.


The good news is that colorectal cancer – the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States – is preventable. The disease often starts as polyps (precancerous growths) in the lining of your colon and rectum. A routine colonoscopy can spot and remove these polyps before they become cancerous.

The doctor will lubricate your anus during a colonoscopy and insert the scope into the rectum and colon. The procedure takes about 30 to 60 minutes, and the doctor will inject you with a sedative that makes you relaxed and comfortable. You’ll spend an hour or so in the healthcare center recovering from the sedative. Afterward, the gastroenterologist will discuss your results with you and explain any procedures they performed. You’ll also get a formal report in the mail or electronically. It’s not everyone’s idea of a great time, but it may be the most important half hour you ever spend.