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Preventing colon cancer and maintaining bowel health

A colonoscopy is a procedure that enables a specialty-trained provider (usually a gastroenterologist) to evaluate the inside of the colon (large intestine or large bowel).

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Why get a colonoscopy?

  1. To screen for cancer. Colorectal cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States. However, it’s also a slow-growing cancer. That means when it’s found in the early stages, it’s very treatable. One of the best ways to screen for colorectal cancer in people without symptoms is colonoscopy.
  2. To investigate symptoms. A colonoscopy can be used to investigate:
    • Blood in the stool
    • Abdominal pain
    • Diarrhea
    • Changes in bowel habits
    • Changes in stools
    • An abnormality found during imaging

When to get a colonoscopy?

Your first colonoscopy for screening should happen at age 45. After this, screenings should be performed once every ten years, depending on your medical history and risk factors.

For select high-risk individuals, colon cancer screening should begin even sooner than age 45. This includes individuals with a family history of colon cancer and those who have been diagnosed with inflammatory bowel disease. To ask about your risk level, talk to your primary care provider.

Learn more about the process

This service does not require a referral. To see if your insurance company requires one, call the number on your card.

To establish care with a St. Luke's primary care provider, call 218.249.4000 or find a clinic near you.