Polyps are abnormal growths in the colon or rectum that may grow, and in some cases, turn into cancer. During a flexible sigmoidoscopy, the doctor can detect and remove these polyps from the rectum or lower colon, thereby preventing a potential colorectal cancer from developing.
In addition, if the doctor sees any abnormal tissue in the rectum or lower part of the colon, he or she may take a small sample of tissue, called a biopsy, from that area. A biopsy may be taken for many reasons and does not necessarily mean that cancer is suspected.
If your doctor removes a polyp or takes a biopsy during your flexible sigmoidoscopy, this tissue will be sent to the pathologist for testing. The pathology results are usually available about 5 days or so after the procedure, but this can vary depending on the institution and pathology laboratory.
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