​Why should I get a colonoscopy?

Karen KIm, MD, and her patient before colonoscopy procedure

It can save your life

Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in men and women in this country. Screening by colonoscopy can prevent cancer or find it at an early stage. During screening, a doctor looks for polyps (abnormal tissue growth) or cancer. If precancerous polyps are found, they can be removed before they turn into the cancer.

Seven quick facts about colonoscopies

Did you know? 

  • Most colorectal cancers occur in people with no family history of the disease, but it is very important to know your family history.
  • Polyps and colorectal cancer rarely cause symptoms, especially in the early stages.
  • Removal of precancerous polyps lowers the chance of getting colorectal cancer by 70 percent.
  • The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends screening for colorectal cancer starting at age 50.
  • For every year the initial screening is delayed, the risk of cancer increases by twofold.
  • After the first colonoscopy, most patients only need to be screened every 10 years.
  • Colorectal cancer is preventable and highly curable when it’s found early.

If you are 50 or older, don't wait to get screened.

Which colorectal cancer test is right for you?

Our shared decision-making guide (PDF) can help you work with your healthcare team to decide on the best colorectal cancer test for you.

Download our colorectal screening options guide

Colorectal cancer screening and diagnosis

Physicians at UChicago Medicine take a proactive approach to cancer screening – especially in high-risk patients – with the goal of catching the disease at an earlier, more treatable stage.

Learn more about colonoscopy screening
Karen Kim, MD

Karen Kim, MD

Karen E. Kim, MD, specializes in the prevention, screening, and early detection of colorectal cancer, hepatitis B, and women's health issues — particularly functional bowel diseases. She is skilled in the assessment of hereditary colon cancer syndromes and colon cancer risk in families.

Learn more about Dr. Kim