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The colorectal surgeons and gastroenterologists at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center perform colonoscopies in our Gastroenterology Lab to detect and help prevent colon cancer and other colorectal conditions. Colon cancer is one of the most treatable cancers – if detected early. It can often be prevented by the removal of pre-cancerous polyps, small clumps of cells that can turn into cancer during the course of a colonoscopy.

Between 80 and 90 percent of patients make a full recovery when colon cancer is detected in the early stages. Recovery rates drop significantly once the cancer has progressed. This is why we recommend regular colon cancer screenings, the most comprehensive and valuable of which is colonoscopy.

What Is a Colonoscopy?

A colonoscopy is a safe and effective method of inspecting the full length of the colon and rectum. Using a small camera attached to a long, flexible tube called a colonoscope, physicians can see inside the colon, perform biopsies, remove colon polyps and diagnose colon and rectal conditions.

How Is a Colonoscopy Performed?

Colonoscopies are outpatient procedures performed while you are sedated. The entire procedure usually takes less than one hour. Your physician will provide detailed instructions on how to prepare and will answer any questions or concerns prior to your colonoscopy appointment.

What to expect:

  • Your physician will prescribe a medication to thoroughly clear your bowels to be taken one day before the exam.
  • You will receive intravenous sedation for the procedure.
  • Your physician will insert the colonoscope rectally and guide it to the part of the body where your small intestine meets your colon.
  • While your physician is examining your colon, polyps may be removed or tissue samples taken for biopsy as necessary.
  • Afterward, you may experience some discomfort, which is usually relieved by expelling gas.

When Should I Get a Colonoscopy?

Colonoscopies are routinely recommended for adults beginning at age 50 and should be repeated every 10 years as part of a colorectal cancer screening program. If you have a family history of colon or rectal cancer, consult a physician about when to schedule a colonoscopy.

Other reasons for a colonoscopy include:

  • Changes in bowel habits or rectal bleeding
  • Unexplained abdominal pain
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • A barium enema exam that suggests tumors or polyps
  • Blood in the stool
Visit our Health Encyclopedia to learn more about colonoscopies.

Contact Us

To learn more, for help finding a physician or to schedule an appointment, call 1.800.3.ADVOCATE (1.800.323.8622). You can also find a physician and request an appointment online.

Physicians: To refer a patient, call 773.296.7095.

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