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What happens in a colonoscopy?

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With a colonoscopy, your doctor can see inside your entire colon and rectum. He or she will use a flexible, hollow, lighted tube about the thickness of a pen called a colonoscope. It has a tiny video camera on the end. Your doctor will gently push the tube inside your colon and take pictures along the way. Your doctor will pump small amounts of air inside your colon to keep it open while the tube is in place. The doctor will be looking for polyps (small growths on the colon) that could be early signs of cancer. If your doctor finds any small growths, he or she can remove them while doing the exam. This is why it's important for a patient to have a clean colon before the exam so that the doctor can get a clear look at what's going on inside. The exam takes around half an hour.

SOURCES:

National Cancer Institute: "Colorectal Cancer -- Patient Version." American Cancer Society: "Colorectal Facts & Figures," "What is Colorectal Cancer?" American College of Gastroenterology: "Colonoscopy FAQs."

Reviewed by Sabrina Felson on April 22, 2019

SOURCES:

National Cancer Institute: "Colorectal Cancer -- Patient Version." American Cancer Society: "Colorectal Facts & Figures," "What is Colorectal Cancer?" American College of Gastroenterology: "Colonoscopy FAQs."

Reviewed by Sabrina Felson on April 22, 2019

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When should you get a colonoscopy?

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