A colonoscopy is a colorectal cancer screening test. It helps us detect and treat abnormal growths called polyps, which can develop into colorectal cancer over time. A colonoscopy is the best way to find cancer early before symptoms develop. This is when treatment is most effective. At Henry Ford Health, we make it easy for you to get your colonoscopy from experienced gastroenterologists.

Why choose Henry Ford for your colonoscopy screening?

Our colonoscopy screening program offers:

  • Board-certified gastroenterologists: Our colonoscopy team  includes board-certified and fellowship-trained gastroenterologists with specialized expertise in colonoscopies. Research shows that non-gastroenterologists are five times more likely than gastroenterologists to miss cancer during a screening colonoscopy. Our expert team gets you accurate results.
  • Convenient locations, fast results: With locations throughout Detroit and southeast Michigan, it’s easy to find a colonoscopy screening location close to you. You also receive results from your gastroenterologist right after the procedure, so there’s no stressful waiting. Results from a tissue biopsy are typically available within one to two days.
  • Open-access colonoscopy program: If you qualify for our program, you can get a screening colonoscopy without first seeing a gastroenterologist. Candidates for an open-access colonoscopy are in good health and don’t have concerning symptoms. This program can save you time and money by having one office visit instead of two.
  • High patient satisfaction: At Henry Ford, we have excellent patient satisfaction scores for colonoscopies, as reported by Press Ganey. We gather this feedback from our patients so we can continue to improve our care and your experience.

What are the colonoscopy screening guidelines?

Our experts recommend that people with an average risk of colorectal cancer begin screening at age 45 and continue screening until age 75. If you are at an increased risk for colorectal cancer, start screening at age 40 or as recommended by your doctor.

You’re at an increased risk of colorectal cancer if you have:

  • Family history of colorectal cancer, colorectal polyps or certain inherited diseases
  • History of colorectal polyps
  • Had radiation therapy to your abdomen or pelvic region
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis)

How do I prepare for a colonoscopy?

It’s important to clean and empty your colon so your doctor can easily see and remove any polyps during your colonoscopy. You follow a special diet of clear liquids and strong laxatives for a day or two before your procedure. This is called bowel prep. Your care team will give you instructions so you know what to do. Stay near a bathroom during your bowel prep, as you’ll need to go often.

What can I expect during a colonoscopy?

Before your colonoscopy, you receive pain medication and a sedative. These medications help you relax and minimize discomfort. Because of these medications, you can’t drive afterward. You’ll need someone to go with you to your appointment and take you home.

Your colonoscopy takes place in a private room and lasts about 30 minutes. A gastroenterologist or colorectal surgeon does the procedure using a colonoscope, a thin tube about the width of a finger with a light and tiny camera on the end.

During the procedure:

  1. Your doctor eases the colonoscope through your rectum and into your colon, where it captures images.
  2. If your doctor finds a polyp during the procedure, they remove it and take a sample of tissue for a biopsy.
  3. Typically, your doctor talks to you after the procedure once your sedation has worn off. They’ll let you know if they found anything abnormal or if you need additional tests.

After the procedure:

  • You may have cramps, bloating or mild discomfort for a few hours after your colonoscopy. You can typically return to your normal activities the next day.
  • If your doctor found a polyp, they send it to a pathologist, who examines the sample under a microscope to look for signs of cancer. Your doctor will call you with the results.

What happens if we find cancer during a colonoscopy?

If the results of your biopsy are positive, meaning we found cancer in your colon, rectum or anus, we may recommend additional tests to confirm a colorectal cancer diagnosis . A team of experts on our colorectal cancer tumor board reviews your case and makes a plan for colorectal cancer treatment.

How often do I need a colonoscopy?

People between ages 45 and 75 with an average risk of colon cancer should have a colonoscopy every 10 years. You may need a colonoscopy earlier or more often if you are at an increased risk of colorectal cancer or if the results of a previous colonoscopy were abnormal.

Are there alternatives to a colonoscopy?

Colonoscopy is the most common colorectal cancer screening test. But there are other ways of screening. If you aren’t healthy enough for a standard colonoscopy or can’t have sedation, your doctor may recommend an at-home stool test or virtual colonoscopy. Learn more about colorectal cancer screening  and colonoscopy alternatives.

Is a colonoscopy safe?

It’s normal to feel nervous about having a procedure, but a colonoscopy is one of the safest procedures we perform. The main risks, although rare, include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Bleeding
  • Gastrointestinal perforation (hole in your intestine)

How can I schedule a colonoscopy near me?

Ready to schedule your colorectal cancer screening? Call (877) 672-7336 or request a colonoscopy appointment online.
gastroenterologist talking to man about colonoscopy
Get Screened

Colorectal cancer screening is the best means to catch pre-cancerous polyps and diagnose colon cancer at its earliest stage, when it’s treatable and curable.


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