Colonoscopy is a diagnostic procedure that allows the physician to detect changes of abnormalities in the large intestine and rectum.
An endoscope, a flexible, thin tube with a tiny video camera, is inserted through the rectum into the colon. During a colonoscopy, the physician may remove tissue for further examination and possibly treat any problems that are discovered.
You will lie on your side while your doctor advances a colonoscope through your
large intestine. Your doctor will examine the lining as he slowly withdraws the colon scope. The procedure itself usually takes 15 to 30 minutes, although you should plan on two hour for waiting, preparation and recovery.
Colonoscopy can assist in identifying problems with the colon, such as early signs of cancer, inflamed tissue, ulcers, and bleeding. Colonoscopy is also used to screen for polyps indicating the possible presence of colorectal cancer, the third leading cause of cancer deaths in the U.S. Polyps are abnormal growths in the lining of the colon and are usually benign (noncancerous). They vary in size from a tiny dot to several inches.
The American Cancer Society recommends that colorectal cancer screening beginning at age 50 for both men and women. Those with a strong family history of colorectal cancer should begin screenings earlier.