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What are some facts about female colonoscopies?

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Quick Answer

The American Cancer Society recommends that all adults have a colonoscopy, a screen test for polyps and colorectal cancer, beginning at the age of 50, reports the Women's Medicine Collaborative. Women with rectal bleeding or a family history of colon cancer should consult a physician about tests earlier.

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Full Answer

A colonoscopy is the only way to detect, analyze and remove polyps in the colon that may develop into cancerous tumors, according to the Women's Medicine Collaborative. It is a misconception that a woman does not have to undergo a colonoscopy unless she has symptoms. It is also a misconception that a woman has to go under general anesthesia for the procedure. Such preparation is usually medically unnecessary and only required for patients considered high risk because of age, illness or a history of complications with sedatives. Thus, the majority of patients receive "conscious sedation," which involves a combination of drugs that help relax the patient and prevent discomfort during the procedure.

To prepare for a colonoscopy, a person must drink a solution that clears the bowels of all solid matter, explains the Women's Medicine Collaborative. Patients must drink 8 ounces of the solution every 15 to 30 minutes over a period of several hours the day before. There is also the option of a split-dose preparation, taking half the solution the night before and half the morning the day of the procedure.

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