Why Is a Flexible Sigmoidoscopy Done?

A flexible sigmoidoscopy may be performed as a preventive screening test for colorectal cancer (also called colon cancer) before any symptoms develop, or as a diagnostic procedure to evaluate the cause of symptoms.

  • Screening
    Men and women who have no symptoms and who do not have risk factors that increase their risk for colon cancer need to start getting screened for this disease at age 50. Potentially pre-cancerous polyps and early cancers often cause no symptoms. This is why getting screened before symptoms develop is so important. People who have certain risk factors—such as having a family history of colorectal polyps or colorectal cancers OR having inflammatory bowel disease—need to talk with their doctor about starting screening at a younger age.


  • Evaluating symptoms
    If you are having lower abdominal pain, rectal bleeding, or other lower gastrointestinal signs or symptoms, your doctor may perform a flexible sigmoidoscopy to examine the rectum and sigmoid colon to identify the cause of your symptoms. This procedure may help your doctor to diagnose your condition and provide effective treatment.


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