A colonoscopy is the only test that allows your doctor to find and remove polyps during the same exam. That means removal of abnormal tissue before it grows into cancer.
Why colonoscopy screening is considered the gold standard:
- 1 test to detect and remove polyps
- 89% reduction in cancer incidences
- 90% survival rate when cancer is found and treated early
- 100% coverage by insurance for preventive screenings
- 45 recommended age for first colonoscopy if at average risk
Here’s what to expect from a colonoscopy:
- Medication helps you stay comfortable –Mild sedatives keep you asleep during the procedure
- Removal of abnormal tissue – Doctors can find and remove polyps during one exam
- Early cancer detection – The sooner cancer is found, the more options for treatment
- Screening every 10 years – A clean result means you don’t have to worry about it for a decade
What to know about polyps
Polyps grow on the inner wall of the colon and rectum. Not all polyps are cancerous, but some polyps may turn into cancer. Precancerous polyps can grow for a long time without causing symptoms before they become cancer.
The earlier polyps are removed, the less risk of developing colon cancer.
At-home stool tests
You may choose a Fecal Immunochemical Test (FIT) that you can do at home. The test looks for blood in the stool, which can occur for many reasons.
FIT is considered a less effective cancer prevention tool. It detects colon cancer once it’s already present, which may mean the disease is in a later stage. FIT detects precancerous polyps only 42.4 percent of the time, on average.*
If a FIT is positive, a diagnostic colonoscopy determines if polyps or cancer are present in the colon. A colonoscopy also is the only way to remove abnormal tissue or precancerous polyps.
If a FIT is negative, doctors recommend repeating at-home stool tests every year.
Choose the right test for you
Colonoscopy is the best screening option if you are at average risk for developing colon cancer. If you have a family history of colon cancer or a personal history of colon polyps or colon cancer, it’s the only recommended test. To learn about your risk factors for colorectal cancer, take our online assessment.
Talk to your doctor to find out how to schedule a colonoscopy.
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* Information provided by American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy