Few people really look forward to a colonoscopy. But when you consider that it could save your life, it's a simple step worth taking. A colonoscopy is the best way to detect and prevent colorectal cancer, the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in men and women in the United States.

Experts recommend most people have a colonoscopy starting at age 45. People with a higher risk, such as having a family history of colon cancer, should be tested sooner.

During a colonoscopy exam, a flexible tube is inserted into the rectum and moved through the large intestine. A tiny video camera at the tip of the tube allows the doctor to examine the lining and see any polyps that may be present. If colon polyps are found, they can be removed at the same time. You're under sedation, so you won’t feel a thing.

Before your exam, you will need to fast from solid foods and drink liquids to empty your colon. That's essential to getting a clear picture of the lining of your intestine. But today, there are options to make the prep easier than ever.

Mercy specialists will guide you through every step of your colonoscopy. They bring experience and expertise to this very effective form of cancer detection and treatment, and they'll work hard to keep you informed and at ease through the entire process.

Colorectal cancer can be hereditary. If you have a family history of colorectal cancer or have been diagnosed yourself, your doctor may recommend genetic counseling and possible testing. This testing is a safe, simple way to discover if you or your family is at risk for certain cancers.

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