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What to expect before and during a colonoscopy

Before the test:

Be sure your doctor knows about any medicines you're taking. Your doctor will give you specific instructions for your procedure. It's important to read them carefully. You may need to follow a special diet. If you normally take prescription medicines in the mornings, talk with your doctor or nurse about how to manage them for that day.

Because a sedative is used during the test, you will need to arrange for someone you know to take you home after the test. If transportation might be a problem, talk with your healthcare provider about the policy at your hospital or surgery center for using one of these services.

During the test:

The test itself usually takes about 30 minutes. Before it starts, you'll be given a sedating medicine to make you feel relaxed and sleepy during the procedure. You'll wake up after the test is over but might not be fully awake until later in the day.

During the test, you'll be asked to lie on your side with your knees pulled up. A drape will cover you. Your blood pressure, heart rate, and breathing rate will be monitored during and after the test.

The doctor will look at the inner walls of the colon as he or she slowly removes the colonoscope. If a small polyp is found, it may be removed and then sent to a lab to be checked to see if it has any areas that have changed into cancer. This is because some small polyps can become cancer over time.

If your doctor sees a larger polyp, tumor, or anything else abnormal, a biopsy may be done. A small piece of tissue is taken out through the colonoscope. The tissue is checked in the lab to see if it's cancer, a benign (non-cancerous) growth, or inflammation.


Cologuard is an easy-to-use, noninvasive colon cancer screening test that you can use in the privacy of your home. It identifies altered DNA and/or blood in stool, which can be associated with the possibility of colon cancer or precancer. Your healthcare provider will talk with you about your results.

If you would like a Cologuard kit, the process is simple.

  1. Talk to your provider about colorectal cancer screening options.
  2. Your provider will order a kit on your behalf.
  3. Your Cologuard test kit will be conveniently shipped to your doorstep.
  4. Open the kit and review the instructions. Using the test is easy and requires only one stool sample. There is no special prep or need for time off. Plus, you don't have to make any changes to your diet or medication.
  5. After you've followed all the instructions, sending your Cologuard package to the lab for analysis is practically effortless. Each kit comes with a prepaid and preaddressed UPS label. Simply follow the instructions on how to pack the kit, then ship it from any UPS location or call 1-800-PICKUPS to schedule a pick-up.
  6. Once your kit is received, the lab will typically test your sample within 2 weeks. Your results will be sent to your healthcare provider who will follow up and discuss them with you.

Insurance coverage

Cologuard is covered by many commercial insurers, and in many cases, it's covered by Medicare with no co-pays. We highly recommend you call your insurer directly to confirm what they will pay, what they expect you to pay, and if you or your doctor need to file any paperwork before you use the test.

Important risk information

Cologuard should not be used if you:

  • Have a history of colorectal cancer, adenomas, or other related cancers
  • Had a positive result from another colorectal cancer screening test within the past 6 months
  • Have a condition that places you at high risk for colorectal cancer, including inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), certain hereditary syndromes, or a family history of colorectal cancer

Talk to your healthcare provider if any of these situations apply to you.

A negative test result does not confirm the absence of cancer. Patients with a negative test result should discuss with their healthcare provider when they need to be tested again.

False positives and false negatives can occur. In a clinical study, 13% of people without cancer received a positive result (false positive) and 8% of people with cancer received a negative result (false negative). It is important to talk to your doctor about your test results.

REFERENCE: Important Risk Information | Cologuard® Patient Site

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