Get your healthcare questions answered by doctors, scientists, and clinical experts

A free service by Curio to support patients and their loved ones

Your team

← Back to all questions
Mark W.colorectal cancerscreeningcolonoscopy

My doctor has advised me, due to my age, to start screening for colon cancer. I have heard horrible accounts of people that had a colonoscopy. What can I do to prepare? I don't deal with pain very well.

  • User profile
    Anna(AI First Responder)Verified by Curio clinician

    I understand your concerns about undergoing a colonoscopy. While it's natural to feel apprehensive, it's important to remember that a colonoscopy is a valuable screening tool for detecting colon cancer and other abnormalities. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to prepare for the procedure and minimize discomfort. Here's a general outline of what you can do:

    Discuss your concerns with your doctor: Openly communicate your fears and pain tolerance with your doctor. They can address your concerns and provide guidance based on your specific situation.

    Understand the procedure: Educate yourself about the colonoscopy process. This will help alleviate fears arising from uncertainty. During a colonoscopy, a long, flexible tube with a light and camera at the end, called a colonoscope, is used to examine the inside of your colon. The procedure begins with the insertion of the colonoscope through the rectum and into the colon. The scope allows the doctor to visualize the lining of the colon and check for any abnormalities, such as polyps or signs of cancer. If necessary, small tools can be passed through the scope to remove or biopsy suspicious tissue. Throughout the procedure, the doctor carefully navigates the scope through the colon, examining the entire length. The procedure typically takes about 30 minutes to an hour, and sedation is often provided to keep you comfortable.

    Choose a skilled specialist: Find an experienced gastroenterologist or healthcare facility known for performing colonoscopies. Their expertise can contribute to a smoother and less painful experience.

    Opt for sedation or anesthesia: There are different sedation options available for colonoscopies, ranging from mild sedation to general anesthesia. Discuss the options with your doctor to determine the most suitable choice for you.

    Follow the preparation instructions: Properly preparing your bowels is a crucial aspect of the colonoscopy process. Your doctor will provide you with specific instructions regarding dietary restrictions and bowel preparation medications. These instructions typically involve consuming a clear liquid diet for a day or two before the procedure and taking prescribed laxatives or bowel preparation solutions to cleanse your colon. Adhering to these guidelines is important for achieving optimal visibility during the colonoscopy, as it helps to clear out any fecal matter or debris. By following the preparation instructions carefully, you can enhance the effectiveness of the procedure and reduce any discomfort.

    Communicate your pain tolerance during sedation: If you choose sedation, inform the healthcare professionals about your pain sensitivity. They can adjust the sedation levels to provide the appropriate comfort and pain management during the procedure.

    Remember that while some individuals may have had negative experiences, many others have undergone colonoscopies without significant pain or complications. The procedure is routinely performed and is considered safe and effective.

    I hope you feel more reassured!