Schedule colonoscopy

Understanding Colon Cancer

Colon cancer, also known as colorectal cancer, is a prevalent form of cancer that originates in the colon or rectum. This type of cancer typically begins as small, benign clumps of cells called polyps that form on the inner lining of the colon. While most polyps are harmless, some can develop into cancer over time if not detected and removed early. The progression from benign polyp to malignant cancer can take many years, making regular screening crucial for early detection and prevention.

The Importance of Colonoscopy

What is a Colonoscopy?

A colonoscopy is a medical procedure used to examine the interior of the colon and rectum. During the procedure, a long, flexible tube called a colonoscope is inserted into the rectum. The colonoscope is equipped with a small video camera at its tip, which transmits images to a monitor, allowing the doctor to inspect the entire length of the colon. If necessary, tools can be passed through the colonoscope to remove polyps or take tissue samples for biopsy.

Benefits of Colonoscopy

Detection and Removal of Polyps

One of the most significant benefits of a colonoscopy is its ability to detect and remove polyps. Polyps are small growths on the inner lining of the colon that can vary in size and shape. While most polyps are benign, some can become cancerous. During a colonoscopy, any polyps found can be removed immediately, a process known as polypectomy. Removing polyps before they turn into cancer is a key preventive measure and can significantly reduce the risk of developing colon cancer.

Early Detection of Cancer

Early detection of colon cancer dramatically improves treatment outcomes. A colonoscopy can identify cancer at an early stage when it is most treatable. Early-stage colon cancer is often asymptomatic, meaning that symptoms may not appear until the disease is more advanced. By the time symptoms develop, the cancer may have progressed to a more severe stage. Regular colonoscopies can detect cancer before symptoms arise, leading to earlier intervention and better chances of successful treatment.

Diagnosis of Other Conditions

In addition to detecting polyps and cancer, colonoscopy can diagnose other conditions affecting the colon and rectum. These include inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) such as Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, diverticulosis, and other sources of gastrointestinal bleeding. Identifying these conditions can lead to appropriate treatments that improve patient outcomes and quality of life.

Biopsy Capability

If abnormalities are found during a colonoscopy, the doctor can take tissue samples (biopsies) for further analysis. Biopsies can help diagnose the type and extent of any abnormal growths, guiding treatment decisions. This ability to obtain a definitive diagnosis during the procedure makes colonoscopy a powerful tool in managing gastrointestinal health.

Preparation for Colonoscopy

Proper preparation is essential for a successful colonoscopy. The goal of preparation is to clean out the colon, providing a clear view for the doctor. Preparation typically involves dietary restrictions and the use of laxatives:

  • Dietary Restrictions: In the days leading up to the procedure, patients are usually advised to follow a low-fiber diet. The day before the colonoscopy, a clear liquid diet is recommended, including broth, clear juices, and gelatin. Patients should avoid red or purple liquids, which can be mistaken for blood during the procedure.
  • Laxatives: Patients are given a laxative solution to drink the day before the colonoscopy. This solution helps empty the colon by inducing bowel movements. It is crucial to follow the instructions carefully to ensure the colon is thoroughly cleaned.

Risks and Considerations

While colonoscopy is generally safe, it is not without risks. Potential complications include:

  • Bleeding: There may be bleeding at the site where a polyp was removed, or a biopsy was taken. This bleeding is usually minor and stops on its own.
  • Perforation: In rare cases, the colonoscope can create a tear in the colon or rectum wall, which may require surgical repair.
  • Reactions to Sedation: Some patients may experience reactions to the sedatives used during the procedure.

It is important for patients to discuss their medical history and any concerns with their healthcare provider before undergoing a colonoscopy.


Colon cancer is a significant health concern, but it is highly preventable and treatable when detected early. Colonoscopy is a critical tool in the fight against colon cancer, offering the ability to detect and remove polyps, identify early-stage cancer, and diagnose other gastrointestinal conditions. Proper preparation and understanding of the procedure can enhance its effectiveness and reduce the risk of complications. Regular screening, starting at age 45 or earlier for those with higher risk, is essential for reducing the incidence and mortality of colon cancer. If you have risk factors for colon cancer or are experiencing symptoms, consult with a healthcare provider to discuss screening options and develop a plan tailored to your needs.

Your Health Matters

Let us partner with you in the thing that matters most - your health. Make an appointment today.