A colonoscopy is a test that looks at the inner lining of a person’s large intestine. The large intestine is also called the colon.
Often, people have a colonoscopy as a screening test to see for polyps or for cancer within the colon or rectum. Polyps are growths inside the colon which may become cancer. If you have got polyps, the doctor can generally take them out during the colonoscopy. Taking polyps out lessens your chances of getting cancer. People can also have colonoscopy if they have any of the symptoms listed below. Cancer screening tests are tests that are done to try and discover cancer early, before a person has symptoms. Cancer that is found early often is little and may be cured or treated easily.
Doctors can use 5 or 6 different tests to screen for colon cancer. But the majority doctors think that colonoscopy is the best test to screen for colon cancer.
Doctors recommend that the majority of people begin having colon cancer screening at age 50. Some people have an increased chance of getting colon cancer, because of a strong family record or certain medical conditions. These people may begin screening at a younger age.
Your doctor might order a colonoscopy if you have:
- Blood in your bowel movements
- A change in your bowel habits
- A condition called anaemia that can make you feel tired and weak
- Long-term belly or rectal pain that you cannot explain
- Abnormal results from a different type of colon test
- A history of colon cancer or polyps in your colon
Your doctor will give you advice about what to do before a colonoscopy. He or she will tell you what foods you can and cannot eat. He or she will also inform you if you need to stop taking any of your common medicines beforehand. Make sure to read the instructions as soon as you get them. You may have to stop some medicines up to a week before the test.
The colon needs to be cleaned out before a colonoscopy. Your doctor will provide you a special drink that causes watery diarrhoea. It is important to drink all of it to make sure your colon is clean. If your colon is clean your doctor will get a better look at the inside lining of the colon. A clean colon also makes the test easier to do and more comfortable. Let your doctor know if you have trouble getting ready for your colonoscopy.
Your doctor will give you medicine to make you feel relaxed. Then he or she will put a thin tube with a camera and light on the end into your anus and up into the rectum and colon. Your doctor will look at the inside lining of the entire colon.
During the procedure, your doctor may do a test called a biopsy. During a biopsy, a doctor takes a small piece of tissue from the colon. Then he or she looks at the tissue under a microscope to see if it has cancer. Your doctor may also remove growths that he or she sees in the colon. You will not feel it if the doctor takes a biopsy or removes a growth.
Your doctor will give you advice regarding what to do after a colonoscopy. Most people can eat as usual. But most doctors recommend that people do not drive or go to work for the rest of the day. Your doctor will tell you when to start taking any medicines you had to stop before the test.
Call your doctor without delay if you have any of the following problems after your colonoscopy:
- Belly pain that is much bad than gas pain or cramps
- A bloated and hard belly
- A lot of bleeding from your anus