More Info: Flexible Sigmoidoscopy

Important Facts About This Test

  • Flexible sigmoidoscopy has an overall medium to high level of accuracy for finding cancers and polyps.  Because only portion of the colon is seen, polyps and cancers in the proximal colon may be missed.
  • If the results of this test are abnormal, you would need to have a colonoscopy.
  • There is a very small risk of bleeding or tearing the colon (perforation). Out of every 10,000 people who have this test, only one will have a serious complication.
  • A flexible sigmoidoscopy needs to be done once every 5 years.
  • It is the least costly screening test that detects both cancers and polyps. It is covered by Medicare and most insurers.

Getting Ready

  • You must take one or 2 enemas before the test.
  • You may also be asked to take a laxative the night before the test.

During the Test

  • The test is done in a doctor's office or hospital.
  • A thin tube is inserted into the colon. A tiny camera at the end of the tube allows the doctor to look for polyps and cancer in the lowest portion of the colon.
  • The itself test takes 10 to 20 minutes to complete.
  • The test may cause some cramping and pressure.

After the Test 

  • The test may cause some temporary bloating afterward.
  • You can return to your normal activities after the test is over.


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