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What Happens on the Day of my Colon Cancer Screening?

Learn What to Expect During Colon Cancer Screening to Ease Your Fears


Updated March 14, 2012

Learn what to expect on the day of your colon cancer screening examination.

What Happens the Day of the Procedure?

Approximately three to four hours before your colon cancer screening exam, you will stop eating and drinking everything, including clear liquids.

You will be sedated for the duration of the colon cancer screening procedure (colonoscopy). Due to the sedation, you will not be allowed to drive home afterward.

Be sure you have a trusted friend or family member drive you to and from the colonoscopy. The medications used to sedate you for the procedure may make you talk or “babble” afterward for a few minutes, and you probably won’t remember what you are saying.

What Happens During Colon Cancer Screening?

During a colonoscopy, your doctor inserts a long, thin tube with a tiny camera on the end into your rectum and the full length of your colon. Air or water will be put into your colon, as well, to allow for a better view.

A colonoscopy typically lasts between 20 and 45 minutes. You will not remember much of it due to the sedating medication. If your doctor finds any suspicious growths, he or she will remove them or take a sample from them at that time.

What Happens After My Colon Cancer Screening?

If samples are taken, they will be sent to a lab to check for cancer or pre-cancerous growths. Most offices will have lab results for you within 7-10 days.

What are the Possible Complications of Colon Cancer Screening (Colonoscopy)?

A possible complication of colonoscopy is puncture of the colon, but thankfully, this is rare. If you have concerns about serious complications, such as a colon puncture, talk to your doctor.

You likely will have some gas pains or cramps after the test until the air leaves your colon. But most people find the test itself to be easy, because they don’t remember it.

You may see blood in your stool for a day or two after the test, but this is usually not serious. If in doubt, call your doctor.

More Important Tips on How Not to Dread Colon Cancer Screening


American Cancer Society Frequently Asked Questions About Colonoscopy and Sigmoidoscopy. Accesed: January 29, 2009.

Gastroenterology of the Rockies Colonoscopy Pep Talk. Accessed: January 29, 2009.

WikiHealth How to Prepare for a Colonoscopy. Accessed: January 29, 2009.

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See What to Expect at a Colonoscopy
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