Routine Colonoscopies Can Save Lives
A colonoscopy is the most reliable way to prevent and detect colon cancer. We find polyps in at least 30 percent of men and 20 percent of women over the age of 50 through colonoscopies. As most colon cancer begins as precancerous polyps (called adenomas) detecting and removing these polyps are key to preventing cancer. Colonoscopy exams take approximately one hour to perform and are available at three convenient locations. Our compassionate staff takes the time to explain procedures, makes sure patients are comfortable and provides patients with reports immediately following the procedures. Patients are sedated during the procedure and may also receive pain medication to keep them relaxed. Most people are able to resume their normal activities the following day. Watch a video featuring U-M gastroenterologists explaining a colonoscopy procedure.
When and Why to Get a Colonoscopy or Other Colon Cancer Screening
Colorectal cancer starts in either the colon or the rectum. The risk of a person having colorectal cancer in his or her lifetime is about 1 in 19. Not counting skin cancers, colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer found in men and women in the U.S. One of the many factors that can predict having colorectal cancer is family history. As a patient you have access to one of the leading cancer genetics programs to help identify genetic risk factors and provide screening recommendations for you and your family.
When colorectal cancers are detected and treated at an early stage (and have not spread beyond the colon or rectum) they are highly curable. Even better, colorectal cancer screening can detect and remove polyps at a precancerous stage – preventing cancer from developing at all. That’s why experts recommend colon cancer screening for all adults beginning at age 50, or earlier if there is family history of colorectal cancer. The purpose of a cancer-screening test is to find and remove adenomatous polyps thereby preventing the development of cancer or to find the cancer in its earliest stages. The earlier cancer is detected, the better the chances of fully recovering from it. By the time symptoms appear, cancer may have begun to spread.
Compassionate and Gentle Colon Cancer Screenings
Experts from the Division of Gastroenterology at the University of Michigan offer four different screening tests:
- Colonoscopy: The preferred method for screening, this is an exam using a tube-like instrument to look inside the rectum and colon for polyps, abnormal areas or cancer. Tissue samples can be collected (biopsy) and abnormal growths or polyps can be removed. Watch our colonoscopy video to see how a colonoscopy is performed.
- Fecal occult blood test or fecal immunochemical test (FOBT): To check stool (solid waste) for blood that may not be visible, which may be a sign of polyps or cancer.
- Flexible Sigmoidoscopy: Using a tube-like instrument to look inside the rectum and lower colon for polyps, abnormal areas or cancer. Evaluates only the lower third of the colon.
- Stool DNATesting (Cologuard): To check stool for gene alterations which might be a sign of polyps or cancer.
Choose the University of Michigan for Your Colonoscopy Exam
When it comes to colon cancer screening, it’s important to choose an experienced health care team. Our board-certified gastroenterologists have performed more than 100,000 colonoscopies in the last 10 years.
More Questions About Colonoscopy?
For more information about colon cancer screening, visit our Colonscopy Frequently Asked Questions page. Tour a giant colon and learn how to keep it healthy.
Make an Appointment
Screening for colon cancer is an important step in the prevention of colon cancer. Make an appointment for your colonoscopy. No referral is needed, unless you belong to an HMO.