Facts, myths and fears about colonoscopy

We talk about how a colonoscopy can help stop colon cancer.

September 2, 2020


A colonoscopy is a common screening test. It lets a doctor see the inside of your colon and rectum to check for cancer and other problems.

This is the best way to prevent colorectal cancer and find it at its earliest, most treatable stages. But many patients put off this important exam due to fear, embarrassment, cost and other reasons.

Gastroenterologists specialize in care for the stomach, intestines and bowel. In this video, Polyclinic gastroenterologists share some key facts about colonoscopies, including:

  • Colonoscopies are covered by most insurance plans.
  • Preparing for the exam may not be the most fun you’ll ever have, but it’s an important step in making sure the exam gives the most correct results possible.
  • The test only takes about 30 minutes.
  • Our polyp detection rate at The Polyclinic exceeds national quality standards.
  • Screening colonoscopy is the best way to stop colon cancer.


Colonoscopy facts, fears and misconceptions


Listen to Polyclinic doctors talk about colonoscopy.

Video Component

Colonoscopy at the Polyclinic


Craig Pepin, MD - Gastroenterology: Hi, I’m Dr. Craig Pepin. I’m a Gastroenterologist at the Polyclinic and I’ve been in practice since 2002. I have the great pleasure of working with six other board-certified Gastroenterologists as well as an amazing, well-trained staff at the Polyclinic Endoscopy center. Much of our practice involves the performance of colonoscopy for our patients. We love colonoscopies. Yet we understand many patients don't love colonoscopy and many patients delay scheduling their exams due to inconvenience, fear, cost, and embarrassment. To educate our patients, we’d like to share some facts as well as some myths and misconceptions about colonoscopy so you can learn to love colonoscopy too – or at least schedule an exam when your time is due.

True or False #1 – Colonoscopies are covered by insurance - True! 

Stephen Rulyak, MD – Gastroenterology: As part of the Affordable Care Act, and required by the state of Washington, screening colonoscopies are covered as a preventative care benefit. Just like a physical or a Mammogram. Some patients may have out of pocket expenses if polyps are found and removed so please do check with your insurance company. However, for most patients there are no out of pocket costs at all. 

True or False #2 – The prep is worse than the test itself - True!

Peggy Headstrom, MD - Gastroenterology: No one likes the thought of drinking liquid laxatives and spending a lot of time in the bathroom, but you’ll be asked to do that, usually the day before your exam. The truth is the better you are at making sure your colon is sparkling clean, the better we can see your colon, detect polyps, and remove them. We also have smaller volume preparations that may be an option for you. Bottoms up.

True or False #3 – Colonoscopy takes too much time – False!

Justin Goodman, MD - Gastroenterology: The colonoscopy test itself takes only about 30 minutes. You can expect to spend about two hours total here at the office as we prepare you for the exam and provide you with a sedative that will keep you relaxed and comfortable throughout the test itself and then let you recover for a little while before you go home. It’s true that colonoscopy does require a little bit of advanced planning and a commitment of some time, but when you think that it can prevent colon cancer and potentially save your life it’s clearly worth the effort.

True or False #4 – Anyone can perform colonoscopy – False!

Peggy Headstrom, MD : Because we perform thousands of Colonoscopy every year, we’re very good at it. We offer excellent quality and earn top marks to prove it. 

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Quality and Excellence

The Polyclinic gastroenterologists’ adenoma polyp detection rates (ADR) consistently exceed national quality standards.*

*Established by the GI Quality Improvement Consortium

We also provide patients with an exceptional patient experience from quick and easy direct scheduling to your arrival and care on the day of your colonoscopy. We’re here to make this experience as easy and pleasant as possible.

True or False #5 – Colonoscopy is the best way to detect and prevent colon cancer – True!

Craig Pepin, MD - Gastroenterology: Colonoscopy is often referred to as the gold standard and for good reason. No other diagnostic test can both screen for and prevent cancer. By identifying the small growths, or polyps, in your large intestine that can eventually turn into cancer and removing them on the spot, colonoscopy is one of the most impressive cancer tests yet.

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The American College of Gastroenterology recommends colonoscopy as the preferred cancer prevention strategy. 


The information provided is for general informational purposes only and is not intended to be medical advice or a substitute for professional health care. You should consult an appropriate health care professional for your specific needs.