A colonoscopy can be your best way to prevent colon cancer. When done early, it allows your doctor to find any abnormalities while there’s still time to treat them. Many have questions about the procedure. For instance, people often ask, “How much does a colonoscopy cost and what does it feel like?” Some questions are just plain awkward. Below, we answer the most common questions we receive.

What is a colonoscopy?

A colonoscopy is a procedure that screens the patient for colorectal cancer. During a colonoscopy, a Gastroenterologist uses a colonoscope, a long flexible, tubular instrument 1/2-inch in diameter. It transmits an image of the colon lining that allows the doctor to see any abnormalities. The doctor inserts the bendable colonoscope through the rectum and proceeds through the large intestine. The colonoscopy takes 30-60 minutes, and the patient is under anesthesia so he or she sleeps right through it.

Why is a colonoscopy important?

Two words: colon cancer. It is cancer of the large intestine (colon). Most cases of colon cancer begin as small abnormal clumps of cells called polyps.

Colon polyps occur in around 25% of the population. Although most polyps are non-cancerous, most cancers of the colon start out as polyps. Removal of non-cancerous polyps is an important way to prevent cancer later.

Over time, these polyps can become colon cancers that doctors treat based on the stage in which they are. Doctors remove benign polyps during a colonoscopy. Treatments for later stages include anything from surgery to chemotherapy to radiation.


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When should I talk to my doctor about a colonoscopy?

The American Cancer Society has research on many aspects of colon cancer. Visit your doctor immediately if you experience one of the symptoms below. That way you can find the cause – which most often isn’t cancer – and talk about treatment if needed:

  • Diarrhea, constipation, or narrowing of the stool that lasts for more than a few days
  • When you need to have a bowel movement but doing so brings no relief
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Dark stools, or blood in the stool
  • Cramps or abdominal (tummy) pain
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Unintended weight loss

Can stress cause rectal bleeding?

Many things can cause rectal bleeding, including stress, which can also worsen it.  It’s important to have your doctor find the cause of your bleeding.

The most common cause of rectal bleeding is hemorrhoids. See a physician to be sure.

Can I inherit colon cancer?

Nonpolyposis Colorectal Cancer and Familial Adenomatous Polyposis are two cancer types considered being hereditary.  These groups account for less than 5% of colorectal cancers.

What are other risk factors?

There are lifestyle choices that can cause a higher risk for colon cancer. To illustrate, The American Cancer Society names these:

  • A smoking habit
  • Weight issues
  • Physical inactivity
  • Certain diets (high in red and/or processed meat)
  • Heavy alcohol use

In addition, there are high-risk factors you cannot control

  • Age
  • A personal or family history of colorectal polyps
  • A personal history of inflammatory bowel disease
  • A family history of colorectal cancer or adenomatous polyps

How can I prevent colon cancer?

The best preventions for colon cancer are a healthy lifestyle and a regular colonoscopy.

People older than 45 make up the most cases of colon cancer. If you are at average risk, you should think about your first procedure then. People with a family history of colon cancer or personal history with polyps should screen sooner.

Is a colonoscopy uncomfortable?

It’s like taking a nap. Anesthesia allows patients to sleep right through it.

I’ve heard colonoscopy prep is awful. How do I cope?

Colonoscopy prep is easier and more “palatable” than it was five to ten years ago. Most patients tolerate it very well.

Before the colonoscopy, be sure to follow the directions on the prep. You should drink plenty of fluids, and plan to be close to home or a restroom.  Use gentle wipes to maintain cleanliness and avoid irritation after bowel movements.  Patients may use Desitin ointment to protect the skin.

You’ll be on a clear liquid diet. That means only drink clear fluids the night before the procedure. This includes clear sodas and flavors of sports drinks except red or purple coloring.

Should a colonoscopy worry me?

It is normal to fear any medical procedure, but a colonoscopy is a common screening. It is performed under the expert guidance of a physician. We focus on ensuring safety and comfort throughout the procedure.

What does recovery look like?

• Moderate activity as tolerated.
• Do not drive a car or operate machinery for 24 hours.
• Do not sign legal documents for 24 hours.
• You may experience lightheadedness, dizziness, and sleepiness following your procedure. You should have a responsible adult with you for 24 hours following the procedure.

• Progress slowly to a regular diet. Start with liquids, then light foods (soup, Jell-O, etc.) as you can tolerate, gradually progressing to solid foods. Avoid heavy, spicy, fried foods when first starting to eat.
• Drink plenty of fluids.
• Do not drink alcoholic beverages for 24 hours following your procedure.

• You may not have a bowel movement for 2-3 days following your procedure.
• It is common to have abdominal cramping immediately following your procedure due to the air used during the colonoscopy. Once you pass the air, the cramping should subside. If it becomes severe, unrelieved abdominal cramping, please call your surgeon.

• You have chills or temperature greater than 101F.
• You notice bloody stool or black stool.
• Your abdomen feels hard and/or rigid.
• You experience unusual stomach pain or shoulder pain.

• If a specimen or biopsy was obtained, results will be back in 7-10 days. Please call your surgeon’s office for results.
• Please follow up in the clinic with your surgeon as directed.

How much is a colonoscopy?

NTTC Surgery Center offers a flat-rate cash price of $1,706 for colonoscopy with biopsy. This is helpful for patients who don’t have a health plan or don’t want to an insurance company.  This price includes the facility fee, surgeon fee, and anesthesia.

Get familiar with the specifics of your coverage if you plan to have insurance cover the cost of your colonoscopy. For example, find out your annual deductible and how much you have met so far.  Staff at Mesquites, friendliest surgery center are available to walk you through the process.

A colonoscopy is an important colon cancer screening procedure. It is painless and can save your life.

If you have any questions or want to speak to a specialist, schedule an appointment today.