Blood is found in approximately 5% of the faeces samples, sent to analysis. If blood is found in your faeces sample, you will be summoned to a colonoscopy within 14 days after test result. A colonoscopy is a visual inspection of the interior of the colon, performed with a flexible camera tube inserted through the rectum.
Before the colonoscopy
Inspection of the colon requires careful preparation, removing colonic content to optimise the safety and quality of the colonoscopy procedure. The bowel cleansing starts 4 days before the colonoscopy, by following a restricted diet.
The day before and again 3 hours before the colonoscopy a dose of laxative is taken to optimise the colon cleansing.
During the colonoscopy
A colonoscopy last between 30 minutes and 1 hour and is performed by either a nurse skilled in colonoscopy or a surgical doctor.
As colonoscopy can be an uncomfortable experience, sedation – conscious or unconscious – is used in approximately 60% of the colonoscopic procedures.
After the colonoscopy
After the colonoscopy you might experience discomfort and/or stomach ache for the rest of that day.
If you have had sedatives during the colonoscopy, you are not allowed to drive from the hospital. It is recommended that you have arranged for someone to drive you home, regardless of use of sedation during the procedure.
Result of the colonoscopy
Outcome of a colonoscopy can be:
a) clean colon, where no abnormalities are found. You will receive the next invitation to colorectal cancer screening in 8 years.
b) adenomas are found and removed from the colon or rectum. The further process depends on the number, size and gravity of the adenomas.
In case of low-risk adenomas, you will be invited to your next colorectal cancer screening in two years.
In case of medium or high-risk adenomas, you will enter a colonoscopic surveillance programme for a number of years. When you terminate the surveillance programme, you re-enter the colorectal cancer screening programme, if you have not yet reached the age of 75.
c) cancer is found. If cancer is detected, you will be offered treatment and further surveillance elsewhere. At the same time you will leave the colorectal cancer screening programme.