The colon (or large bowel/large intestine) starts at the end of the small intestine and ends at the rectum and anus. In a colonoscopy a long flexible tube (a colonoscope) is threaded up through the rectum and transmits an image to a viewing screen. The lining of the colon and rectum can be inspected for such things as inflamed tissue, abnormal growths, and ulcers. Colonoscopy is most often used to look for early signs of cancer in the colon and rectum, and for causes of unexplained changes in bowel habits. If an abnormal growth, such as a polyp (a stalk-shaped growth or lump), is found, a small piece may be taken for examination (biopsy) or it may be removed. Thorough cleansing of the bowel is necessary before a colonoscopy. You will be given pain medication and a moderate sedative to keep you comfortable during the examination.

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