Colonoscopy

Check for early signs of colorectal cancer with a colonoscopy at Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula or another location. This test can find the disease in its first stages, when treatment is most effective.

Should I get a colonoscopy?

Ask your primary care doctor when and how often you should start getting screenings for colon cancer based on:

  • Your medical history and lifestyle
  • Current screening guidelines

Colonoscopy is one of the most thorough colon cancer screenings available. It also lets doctors remove any polyps (lumps that could turn into cancer) during the same procedure.

How to prepare

Your large intestine must be empty before a colonoscopy so a gastroenterologist can clearly see the colon lining. The day before the test, you’ll need to limit your diet to clear liquids and take laxatives to clean out your intestines and rectum. To help make preparation easier, we’ll recommend the least amount of laxatives necessary and give you tips to reduce discomfort.

The day of your colonoscopy

Before your colonoscopy, you’ll receive anesthesia to prevent pain and a sedative to help you relax. You likely won’t remember the procedure.

Then, a gastroenterologist will insert a colonoscope (thin, flexible tube with a light and camera) into the rectum and slowly move it through your entire colon. The doctor will take pictures and look for polyps to remove during the screening. The colonoscopy usually lasts about 30 minutes, depending on how many polyps the doctor removes.

Recovery

You’ll stay with us for an hour or two after the test so we can monitor your health as the anesthesia and sedative start to wear off. Someone else will need to drive you home.

Follow the instructions you receive for self-care at home to ensure a safe recovery. You can likely return to your usual activities the next day.

Other colon cancer screening options

Ask your primary care doctor about additional tests that screen for colorectal cancer:

  • Computed tomography (CT) colonography, or virtual colonoscopy – Uses X-rays from a machine outside your body to show the large intestine
  • Fecal occult blood test (FOBT) – Checks a stool (poop) sample for blood
  • Flexible sigmoidoscopy – Looks at only the lower part of your colon, unlike colonoscopy, which examines the whole large intestine

Talk to your doctor

Ask your primary care provider for a referral to a gastroenterologist.

Getting test results

If you have an online MyChart account, you’ll likely see your test results in the patient portal within 24 hours. Your doctor will call to explain them and discuss next steps. Wait until you talk to your doctor before trying to understand what they mean.

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