Your doctor may recommend a colonoscopy to screen for cancer or evaluate concerning symptoms such as bleeding, irregular bowel habits, pain, or unexplained weight loss. During a colonoscopy, your doctor examines the interior walls of the rectum and colon for abnormalities using a colonoscope, a flexible tube with a camera and light source on the end. Patients usually receive a sedative, and the procedure lasts anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour.
The Importance of Early Colorectal Cancer Detection
As the second leading cause of cancer deaths, colorectal cancer often presents no symptoms in its early stages, which is why it’s critical to screen regularly. A colonoscopy can help your doctor find and remove growths (colorectal polyps) before they turn cancerous.
Experts recommend people at an average risk for colorectal cancer begin routine screenings at age 50. People at higher risk may need to begin screenings earlier and get screened more frequently. Discuss your options and when you should begin screening with your doctor.