Summary Overview

Individuals should be screened for colorectal cancer soon after turning 50 years of age. Screening tests, such as a sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy, can find precancerous polyps so they can be removed before turning cancerous. They can also detect cancer early when treatment is more effective.


Basics

Colonoscopy:
  • A test that can prevent colon cancer or find it early when it’s easier to treat and cure.
  • Colonoscopies are performed in an outpatient setting at a clinic or at a hospital. They are done by a gastroenterologist or trained health care provider.
  • The purpose is to find and remove polyps from the colon and check for signs of cancer. Polyps are growths in the colon that may lead to cancer.


Preparation for the Colonoscopy:
  • The colon must be thoroughly clean before a colonoscopy is performed. This is referred to as “bowel prep.” Your colon must be completely clean so that the gastroenterologist or health care provider can clearly see your entire colon and any possible polyps. 
  • Bowel prep requires drinking a laxative that causes frequent stools and diarrhea. Consider staying at home during this time as you will need to use the restroom very often.


Day of the Colonoscopy:
  • On the day of the colonoscopy you will be given medicine that puts you in a light sleep or a “conscious sedation.” You will most likely not feel pain or remember the procedure.
  • Once the procedure is complete, you will wake up in the recovery area and stay there until you are completely awake.
  • It is typical to have mild cramps or gas for several hours after the procedure.


After the Colonoscopy:
  • Once you get home, plan to take it easy for the rest of the day. Do not go to work or do heavy activities. The next day you should be able to continue with your normal activities.

Screen for Life


Spokane or Washington Specific Data


Recommendations

Regular screening of the colon, beginning at age 50 is key to preventing colon cancer. Colonoscopies should be done every 10 years. Those that are at higher risk of developing colorectal cancer should begin screening at a younger age and test more frequently.


Related Facts

Colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related death in the U.S. (Colon Cancer Alliance)

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