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Basics of a Colon Biopsy

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Updated: February 3, 2008

A colon biopsy is the removal and examination of tissue, cells, or fluid from the colon. If a doctor finds a growth in your colon during a colonoscopy, she'll remove the growth (if it's small) or a piece of it (if it's too big to safely snip off with the colonoscope). A colon biopsy may also be conducted during abdominal surgery.

Why Perform a Colon Biopsy?

Most colon cancer starts as a benign growth called a polyp. Although some polyps look more suspicious than others (because of their color, texture, or size), a colon biopsy is performed on each polyp just to be safe. Other tissue in the colon that looks suspicious during screening or open surgery may also be sampled and analyzed.

Is a Colon Biopsy Painful?

If the idea of having a piece of your colon removed during a colonoscopy is unsettling, you'll be glad to learn that most people don't even feel it. The biopsy comes from the innermost lining of your colon (the mucosa), which isn't particularly sensitive to pain.

When Will I Get the Results?

Your doctor will send the sample to a laboratory for analysis to determine if cancer is present in the tissue. You should hear the results of your colon biopsy within a week. If laboratory analysis confirms the presence of cancer, the next step in the process is colon cancer staging.

Related Articles:

Source: What I Need to Know About Colon Polyps. NDDIC. Apr. 2003. Accessed 4 Jan. 2008 [http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/colonpolyps_ez/index.htm].

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