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Colonoscopy is a test that looks at the inside lining of the large intestine or colon. People have colonoscopy as a screening test to check for polyps or cancer, or as part of the evaluation of symptoms, such as blood in the bowel movement, altered bowel habits, anemia, or abdominal pain. Doctors recommend that most people begin having colon cancer screening at age 50. Some people have an increased chance of getting colon cancer, because of a strong family history or certain medical conditions. These people might begin screening at a younger age.
The colon needs to be cleaned out before a colonoscopy and this is accomplished by taking pills or a special drink that cause watery diarrhea. Before and during the procedure an intravenous medicine is given to relax the patient. Then he or she will put a thin tube with a camera and light on its end into the anus and up into the rectum and inside the lining of the whole colon.
During the procedure, the doctor might do a test called a biopsy. During a biopsy, a doctor takes a small piece of tissue to look at the tissue under a microscope to see if it has cancer. The doctor might also remove precancerous growths (polypectomy).
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