ZocdocAnswersWhat do colonoscopies show my doctor?

Question

What do colonoscopies show my doctor?

Will a colonoscopy show my doctor if I have cancer? I'd like to know no matter the outcome. I am 33 and if it's cancer I want to treat it immediately.

Answer

Colonoscopies are a commonly used form of cancer screening in this country. The test involves the use of a long scope with a camera at the end, inserted through the rectum and advanced to the beginning of the colon/last portion of the small intestine. The test is usually performed under sedation, usually given intravenously but sometimes given with general anesthesia. In order for the test to be effective, the colon must be cleared out prior to the exam with the use of oral stool softeners and liquid laxatives. With the use of the camera scope, the doctor can directly visualize the inside of the colon. Any irregularities that are seen during the exam can be biopsied at that time, whether they are changes in the patterns of blood vessels or a growth on the inside of the wall (called a polyp). The specimens collected during the exam are reviewed by a pathologist under the microscope, and a diagnosis is made. Your doctor will pass along these test results to you when the pathology reports are finalized. In the rare event that a diagnosis of cancer is made, then you and your doctors will come up with a treatment plan as soon as possible.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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