Get Screened for Your Colorectal Health

A colonoscopy is the best way to prevent colorectal cancer or detect it early. All it takes is one day and one screening to protect yourself from the second deadliest cancer.

Sometimes, people choose to put off these screenings due to worries about the time, cost, embarrassment or a lack of symptoms. Even without a family history, signs or risk factors, you can still be at risk.

It's especially important if you’re 45 years old or older to talk to your doctor about whether a colonoscopy or another screening option is right for you.

What is a colonoscopy?

A colonoscopy is a diagnostic procedure that allows your doctor to examine the entire length of your large intestine. They use a colonoscope – a lighted scope with a camera – to look for signs of cancer.

What can a colonoscopy detect?

Colonoscopies are a screening tool for colorectal cancer, the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the U.S. and the fourth most common cancer.

A colonoscopy can help find problems with the colon, such as early signs of cancer, inflamed tissue, ulcers and bleeding. Surgeons will also remove polyps, which may later develop into cancer.

How can I schedule a colonoscopy?

If you’re age 45 or older and due for a colorectal screening, schedule a colonoscopy by calling your clinic or request one through My Sanford Chart. Go to Menu and select Request a Colonoscopy, located near the bottom of the Communication section.

If you’re under age 45 but have symptoms or a family history of colon cancer, request a colonoscopy through My Sanford Chart or by scheduling an appointment with your primary care provider.

Learn more in our frequently asked questions below.

Colonoscopy FAQ

What can I expect from a colonoscopy?

Before Your Colonoscopy
  • Your doctor will give you specific ways to prepare for the test such as drinking a special fluid that helps clean out your bowel.
  • You will be asked to fast before the procedure.
  • You may get additional instructions about a special diet for one to two days prior to the procedure.

During Your Colonoscopy
  • You will be given a gown to wear, and you’ll lie down on your side.
  • You may get a sedative to help you relax or sleep.
  • The whole procedure is done in about 30 minutes.

After Your Colonoscopy
  • You can go home the same day and go back to work and regular activities the next day.
  • Your doctor may ask you to follow a special diet for the first 24 hours after the procedure.
  • If your doctor removed polyps or took samples, they will probably tell you right after your procedure. If more testing is needed, your results may take a few weeks.

When is a colonoscopy recommended?

We recommend getting screened at age 45 and every 10 years after that through age 75. You might need to start younger and get screened more often if you’re at a higher risk for colorectal cancer. Talk to your primary care provider to determine when you should start screenings.

Colonoscopy is one of the most common colon screening procedures. This screening is unique as it also helps prevent cancer. During the procedure, your doctor will remove polyps that could develop into cancer.

Colorectal screen-at-home options are also available. With these tests, you’ll collect your own stool sample and complete a test every one to three years.

Where can I get a colonoscopy?

Sanford Health provides colonoscopy procedures at many locations. Find a doctor or location near you.

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Who is at risk for colorectal cancer?

Risk factors include:

  • Age (45 or older)
  • Ethnicity (Black, American Indian or Alaskan Native)
  • Family history of colorectal cancer
  • Sex (males are at a higher risk)
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Long-term smoking
  • Unhealthy alcohol use

Talk to your primary care provider to learn when you should start colorectal cancer screenings.