18 July 2019
About Colonoscopy

Why Colonoscopy?

Bowel cancer screening aims to detect bowel cancer at an early stage (in people with no symptoms), when treatment is more likely to be effective. Bowel cancer screening can also detect polyps (abnormal growth of tissue) which can easily be removed, reducing the risk of bowel cancer developing later on in life. Some polyps have the potential to turn into cancers over a period of time.

Colonoscopy is a camera examination of the large bowel (Colon) that enables us to examine your bowel thoroughly. During Colonoscopy we are also able to take samples (biopsies) and remove polyps.

It is estimated screening for bowel cancer could save at least 1,200 lives a year as it will find polyps and cancers at an earlier, treatable stage.

If you are aged 70 or over, you can ask for a FOBt kit by calling the Freephone number below. Likewise, if you have been invited for bowel cancer screening, and have any questions about the kit, you should also call. If you are worried about a specific problem or symptom, or otherwise worried about the risks of bowel cancer, then you should talk to your GP.

Bowel Cancer Screening Freephone helpline: 0800 707 60 60

General information about the NHS Cancer Screening Progammes, including the NHS BCSP, is on the NHS Cancer Screening Programmes website. That site also has audio information about the Bowel Cancer Screening Programme, available in several languages.

The Colonoscopy Investigation

At the Heart of England NHE Trust Screening Centre, we are able to offer you a
Colonoscopy investigation at each of its following hospital sites:- Heartlands Hospital, Solihull Hospital and Good Hope Hospital.

The Specialist Screening Practitioner (SSP) will agree a date and hospital site where you can have your colonoscopy investigation performed, with you in clinic.

A Colonoscopy is an examination of the large bowel with a narrow flexible instrument
that can be guided around the various bends. During the procedure an experienced screening doctor uses a colonoscope (a long, flexible instrument about 1/2 inch in diameter) to view the lining of the bowel. The colonoscope is inserted into the rectum (back passage) and advanced through the bowel.The lining of the bowel is checked to see if there are any problems such as inflammation or polyps. During the procedure it may be necessary to take a biopsy – sample of the lining of the bowel. This is done by passing a small instrument called forceps through the colonoscope to ‘pinch' out a tiny bit of the lining (about the size of a pinhead) which is sent to the laboratory for analysis. If polyps are found, they will be removed In a similar way, this is painless.

To ensure that we examine your colon thoroughly it is essential that your bowel is
clean. Therefore, before having your colonoscopy you will be asked to follow a special ‘low residue' diet for three days and to take a laxative drink.

The colonoscopy procedure usually takes thirty minutes but times vary considerably.

Is it uncomfortable?

Colonoscopy can be uncomfortable due to the small amount of air that is used to expand the colon so the doctor can see the bowel walls. You may feel mild cramping during the procedure; cramping can be reduced by taking slow, deep breaths air.

To ensure your comfort throughout the procedure you will be offered a ‘sedative' which will be given to you via a plastic needle (cannula) in your arm, which the doctor will insert before the procedure begins. With the aid of the medication Colonoscopy is generally well tolerated and rarely causes any significant pain.

After the colonoscopy

The screening practitioner will discuss the finings of your colonoscopy investigation with you, before you go home. Because sedation is given for this procedure, you will need a responsible adult to collect you from the hospital to take you home and stay with you overnight.

What Happens Next?

During your colonoscopy the Doctor has discovered a growth in the bowel which looks like a cancer. Waiting for your results can be a very anxious time. It may be up to 2 weeks until you have the results confirmed this is because the specimens have to be dealt with in a certain way to come to the correct diagnosis.

The Screening Nurse and Doctor will have spoken to you about this after the colonoscopy although you may not recall much of what has been said because of the sedation you were given. 

You will have been given the telephone numbers of the screening nurses, please contact them if you wish and they will try to answer any questions you have and be happy to support you if you are feeling anxious.

This simple leaflet helps provide you with some details of what to expect in the next two weeks. Don't be surprised if they do not happen in this order or if some of these things do not happen to you.

• A phone call from a screening nurse within a few days of your colonoscopy to see if you have made a full recovery from the colonoscopy and sedation.

• An appointment for a scan- this will give the Doctors information about the growth.

• A team of health care workers who take care of people suspected of having cancer will discuss your case within a few days so they can begin to think about the best type of treatment for you.  This meeting is called the Multi-Disciplinary Meeting – MDT.

• An option to discuss your results more fully with a screening nurse although usually we will telephone you.

• An Out-patient appointment with the Doctor who performed your Colonoscopy, a Surgeon or Cancer Specialist.

Please remember if anything is unclear contact your Screening Nurse

Rose Riley 07920 191079

Karen Mallows 07920 191078

Sharon West  07971 310143.