Colonoscopy: your questions answered

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There are two other screening options: stool tests and imaging tests.

Stool testing involves taking several samples of your stool and sending them to a lab. They will be tested for traces of blood and genetic material associated with colorectal cancer. Although these tests can often identify colorectal cancer, they are not as good at identifying precancerous polyps (especially when compared to colonoscopy). In other words, these tests are good at identifying colon cancer, but not very good at preventing colon cancer.

CT scans (virtual colonoscopy) can show growths and polyps that would be identified during a colonoscopy; however, individuals should still clean their colon with bowel prep before the scan. Also, if polyps are identified during the exam, the patient will need to undergo a colonoscopy (along with another bowel preparation) to have them removed.

“Nobody likes bowel prep, but colonoscopy really is the best tool we have for preventing colorectal cancer,” says Auteri. “We know people can feel uncomfortable or embarrassed by the colonoscopy process, but we’ve tried to make the experience more patient friendly. It’s an important part of your health, and your healthcare team will put you at ease through the process.

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