Doctor discusses colonoscopy results with female patient

What Colonoscopy Results Show You About Your Health  

Colonoscopies are an effective tool to help prevent colon cancer and are recommended for everyone beginning at age 45. Yet there are many other possible findings doctors may share with you. If you’re not familiar with the terminology, it can sometimes be confusing or concerning.  

Here are some of the terms health care providers may use when discussing your colonoscopy results with you – and what they mean for your health.  

Normal findings 

If nothing out of the ordinary is found during the procedure, it’s advised you won’t need another colonoscopy for 10 years, up until age 75.  

Hemorrhoids

These clumps of veins near the surface of the rectum can cause pain, itching or bleeding during a flare-up, but they pose no immediate danger to your health. Symptoms can be managed through topical treatments and swelling can usually be prevented through a high-fiber diet, drinking water and exercise.  

Diverticular disease

This is where a weakness in the muscular wall in the colon bulges out. Half of adults have them, and most cause no issues. They can cause bleeding or become infected, in which case immediate care is needed. In the most serious of cases, a tear or hole in the colon may occur and would likely need to be repaired with surgery.  

Colonic polyps

Polyps are small growths from the lining of the colon. There are two kinds.  

  • Benign: A benign polyp does not become cancerous, and typically requires no treatment. They include hyperplastic and inflammatory polyps. 
  • Neoplastic: These include colon cancer (adenocarcinoma) and precancerous (adenomas) polyps. The more precancerous polyps you have, and the bigger they are, the higher the risk for colon cancer. At times small polyps can be removed during a colonoscopy, but larger ones may require additional surgery.   

Inflammation/ulceration

The colon lining may be inflamed, irritated or have ulcers. This may be due to medications like ibuprofen or aspirin, or inflammatory bowel disease.  

Bleeding

Colonoscopies may show blood in the colon. This may be coming from a tumor, an ulcer or a collection of blood vessels. If the source of bleeding is not found on colonoscopy, your doctor may recommend additional tests.  

As of July 1, 2021, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and Blue Care Network will cover colorectal screenings for most members beginning at age 45 to align with the recommendation of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. For more information, click here.

For more information on colorectal care, visit bcbsm.com/colorectal 

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