A colonoscopy is a test using a scope and video that lets a physician examine the lining of your colon and rectum. This test can detect polyps and early cancers. Early detection is a powerful tool in the fight against cancer.
Colonoscopy: A Powerful Screening Tool for Colorectal Cancers
A colonoscopy is a relatively quick and painless procedure that uses a video camera to examine the lining of your colon. The procedure looks for pre-cancerous growths called polyps. Because most colorectal cancers start as benign polyps, detecting and removing them early eliminates the risk of progression to cancer.
Who should schedule a colonoscopy?
Beginning at age 50, both men and women should begin screening for colorectal cancer and continue getting screened at regular intervals. However, you may need to be tested earlier than age 50 or more often than other people if:
- You or a close relative have had colorectal polyps or colorectal cancer. This places you at higher risk and screening typically will begin 10 years earlier than when your relative (parent, sibling, etc.) was diagnosed.
- You have inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn's disease, or ulcerative colitis.
- You have a genetic syndrome such as familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) or hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer (Lynch syndrome).
- You are of African American descent. African Americans have the highest colorectal cancer incidence and mortality rates of all racial groups in the United States. Screening is often recommended beginning at age 45.