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"Can an internal examination of the colon detect tumors?"


I am scheduled for a colonoscopy. I will soon be 47. Can they find tumors this way?


Colonoscopy is one of the screening tests for colon cancer that is recommended by most health care societies in this country. A colonoscopy involves a preparation used to clean out the colon so that the inside of the large intestine can be well-visualized by your doctor during the exam. This prep typically involves the use of oral stool softeners and the consumption of a large amount of liquid laxative.

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The actual procedure is typically done under the influence of sedating medications, and involves the insertion of a tube with a camera at its end into the rectum. The camera is advanced to the end of the colon, which allows the doctor to get a real-time look at the inside of the intestine. If any abnormalities are seen, a biopsy can be performed. This can involve the removal of any polyps, which are growths that emerge from the wall of the intestine. Some polyps are pre-cancerous and have the potential to turn into cancer over a number of years. Polyps removed during the procedure can be studied under the microscope. The number and type of polyps seen during the exam will determine when repeat screening should be performed.

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