Colonoscopy, with biopsy

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What is Colonoscopy with Biopsy?

A colonoscopy is a common outpatient procedure that lets your doctor examine the large intestine for polyps (lumps inside your colon that can turn into cancer) or cancer and evaluate symptoms like abdominal pain and rectal bleeding.

If necessary, polyps or other types of abnormal tissue can be removed through the scope during a colonoscopy. Tissue samples (biopsies) can be taken during a colonoscopy as well.

Why would I get a Colonoscopy with biopsy?

Sometimes people have growths in their bowels called polyps. Polyps can be harmless, but they can sometimes become cancer. So, they need to be checked. They can be removed during the colonoscopy and tested. A doctor will take a biopsy and send it to the lab to be examined by specialists. Your results will tell you if you need any further tests or treatment.

Colonoscopy can also be used as a screening method for cancer if you're age 50 or older and at average risk of colon cancer. It is also used to investigate intestinal signs and symptoms. Sometimes a biopsy is required to diagnose some conditions.

What happens during the procedure?

When you arrive, you will speak with a nurse about what's going to happen. They will ask you to change into a hospital gown. You may be offered things to make you more comfortable and make the test easier, such as painkillers and sedative drugs.

During the procedure:

  • A thin, flexible tube with a small camera inside goes into your bottom. 

  • Air is pumped in to open up your bowels (You may feel a bit bloated or like you need the toilet)

  • The tube goes through all of your large bowel (You may have some stomach cramps)

  • Any growths (polyps) in your bowels will be removed or biopsies will be taken and sent to the lab. (This won’t hurt and you will not feel anything if this happens)

What to expect after the procedure?

You’ll usually be told if any growths (polyps) have been removed. You'll then be moved to the recovery room, and nurses will monitor you until you're ready to go home. You might feel bloated or have stomach cramps for 2 to 3 hours after.

If you were given a sedative, it may take around a day for it to wear off, so you will need your responsible family member or friend to drive you home.

If a biopsy was done, you may notice light rectal bleeding for one to two days after the procedure. Consult your doctor if you continue to pass blood or blood clots or if you have persistent abdominal pain or a fever.

Conclusion

A colonoscopy is considered negative if the doctor doesn't find any abnormalities in the colon, but it is considered positive if the doctor finds any polyps or abnormal tissue in the colon.

Most polyps aren't cancerous, but some can be precancerous. This why a biopsy is taken and the polyp is removed. Polyps removed during colonoscopy are sent to a laboratory for analysis to determine whether they are cancerous, precancerous, or noncancerous.

You should get a letter or a call with your results 2 to 3 weeks after a colonoscopy. If a GP sent you for the test, they should also get a copy of your results – call the hospital if you have not heard anything after 3 weeks. Your healthcare team will let you know if any follow-up is needed based on the results of your colonoscopy. 

If your results say you have cancer, you'll see a cancer specialist for treatment as soon as possible. The earlier anything is found, the easier and the quicker it can be treated.

Citations

Nhs: Colonoscopy

Mayo Clinic: Colonoscopy

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