Colon Cancer Screening

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Effective Testing to Find & Prevent Colon Cancer

Colon and rectal cancer (also called colorectal cancer) is the fourth-most common cancer in the U.S. and the second-leading cause of cancer deaths. However, it’s also one of the most treatable cancers if it’s found early.

A colonoscopy is the best way to find colorectal cancer. Compared to at-home colon cancer testing, colonoscopies are better at finding pre-cancer and cancerous cells. During a colonoscopy, your doctor uses a long, thin flexible tube to look at the inside of your colon. Your colon is a u-shaped tube made of muscle that’s below your stomach, and connected to your rectum, which is the final section of your large intestine.   

While some people find the preparation for colonoscopies unpleasant, most don’t find the experience terrible. The colonoscopy itself typically takes less than 30 minutes.  

Our gastroenterologists can perform colonoscopies to help detect colorectal cancer as early as possible and will support you through the entire process. Here you can learn more about colonoscopies and how to schedule yours at Baystate health.

Already have your colonoscopy scheduled? Read how to prepare for it or watch the video below to learn how to make your prep as easy as it can be.

3 Ways to Make Drinking Colonoscopy Prep Easier

Sencabaugh 360x360

Colonoscopy for Two

When Will and Julie Sencabaugh learned that it was time to book their first colonoscopies, they didn’t waste time.

Your Colonoscopy Questions Answered

Why do I need a colonoscopy?
Colorectal cancer often starts as polyps (growths) in the colon (large intestine) that can turn into cancer over time. Polyps and colorectal cancer in early stages don’t usually cause symptoms. Without regular testing, you may not know you have any polyps or cancer until the later stages of the disease, which can make it harder to treat successfully. 

While there are other colorectal cancer tests available, such as Cologuard® and the fecal immunochemical test (FIT), a colonoscopy is the best way to find precancerous and cancerous cells.  

The actual colonoscopy procedure usually takes less than 30 minutes. And, although it can be a challenge to prepare for a colonoscopy, the newest prep formulas are easier to take today. 
When should I have a colonoscopy?
If you have an average risk for colorectal cancer (based on your family history and other medical factors), we typically recommend that you have your first colonoscopy when you turn 50 and then every 10 years after.  

The average 60-year-old has a 25% chance of having a colonoscopy that detects a polyp. 

If you have a parent or sibling who’s been diagnosed with colorectal cancer, you may need to start having colonoscopies earlier. Talk to your primary care provider about your risk and when you should have your first one. 
What happens during a colonoscopy?
We’ll sedate you (give you light anesthesia) before your colonoscopy so that you’re more comfortable during the procedure. You’ll need a responsible adult with you to drive you home after your colonoscopy. 

During the procedure, your doctor will insert a colonoscope (a thin, flexible tube with a small light and camera) through your rectum, the final section of your large intestine, and into your colon, which is a u-shaped tube made of muscle that’s below your stomach. The camera lets your doctor view the inside of your colon on a screen in the exam room. If your doctor sees any polyps, they can usually remove them during the procedure. 

If they find any polyps, they'll test them to determine if they’re precancerous or cancerous. If we find precancerous polyps, you’ll need regular follow-up colonoscopies to check for any additional polyps that may develop. If your doctor finds cancerous cells during your colonoscopy, we’ll work with you to develop a customized treatment plan.
How do I get a colonoscopy?
Talk with your primary care provider about when you need to schedule your colonoscopy. If you don’t have a primary care provider, we have experienced, caring providers to choose from.

Not sure where to turn?

If you have questions about cancer and aren’t sure what to do next, you can call our caring, expert staff for guidance and direction.

Family Cancer Risk Program
If you have a family history of a specific type of cancer, genetic testing may be able to help determine if you are at a higher risk.
Manage Your Health Information Using MyBaystate
Sign in online or download the MyBaystate patient portal app to access your health information.

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