What To Expect With A Cancer Screening Colonoscopy Procedure

A colonoscopy procedure is a common medical test you may have heard your friends or family talking about. It's used for preventative cancer screening or to help your doctor make a diagnosis of colon symptoms you may be having. While this medical test often has a reputation for being uncomfortable, it isn't too difficult to undergo. It's the prep phase of drinking laxatives that can be unpleasant. Here's a look at what you might expect when you undergo a colonoscopy procedure.

Your Colon Has To Be As Clean As Possible

When you have a colonoscopy, your doctor passes a long tube into your rectum and colon. The tube has a light on the end as well as a camera. The camera takes video the doctor can watch on a monitor during the procedure. Your colon has to be clean so that the doctor can see the lining of your colon to look for polyps and other problems.

This means you'll need to start taking laxatives the day before your test. Your doctor has a choice in laxatives to give you and it's important to follow your doctor's orders for taking them, or your test might have to be canceled. Otherwise, the doctor could miss a polyp if your colon isn't clean, and that could endanger your health.

You'll Probably Be Sedated During The Procedure

You'll probably receive moderate sedation for the colonoscopy procedure. However, your doctor has options, and they will discuss them all with you and choose what's best for your situation. With moderate sedation, you may receive a sedative that makes you sleepy and a painkiller. This keeps you comfortable during the procedure so you don't feel pain and the time passes quickly.

Polyps Are Removed When They're Found

If you're having a colonoscopy for cancer screening, the doctor will probably remove all the polyps they find during your exam. Removing polyps is important since they might become colon cancer if left in your body. When the polyps are taken out, they're sent to the lab to be tested for cancer. Your doctor will follow up with your test results and recommendations for further tests to look for metastasis if necessary.

Sometimes, your doctor may not be able to remove a polyp during the colonoscopy. In that case, surgery may be necessary to remove it.

You May Need To Repeat The Colonoscopy

The number of polyps your doctor finds, their type, and whether they are cancerous all factor in to determine when your next colonoscopy cancer screening should be. If your polyps indicate you could have a higher risk of cancer, you'll probably need colonoscopy testing more often than someone who had no polyps or had polyps that usually don't become cancerous.