If a polyp or other abnormality is found during your colonoscopy, it will be removed by a biopsy or polypectomy, and the sample will be sent to a lab for analysis. In this video, Dr. Echavarria and Dr. Gelrud explain that a specially trained doctor (known as a pathologist) will closely examine the sample to check for signs of cancer or pre-cancer. It may take 1-2 weeks to receive the results of the biopsy from your doctor. A benign (non-cancer) result means that your risk of cancer is zero. However, many polyps that get removed do carry a low risk of turning into cancer. If the tissue sample is pre-cancerous you will need to meet with your doctor again. If you had pre-cancerous polyps removed it is good news, since you no longer have those polyps in your body. Patients who have polyps have a higher risk of developing more polyps in the future, so be sure to talk with your doctor about when your repeat colonoscopy should be scheduled.
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This educational activity has been developed by Mechanisms in Medicine Inc. This activity is endorsed by the Colon Cancer Coalition.
This activity is supported by an independent educational grant from Boston Scientific and Ferring Pharmaceuticals.
This website is part of the Animated Patient™ series developed by Mechanisms in Medicine Inc., to provide highly visual formats of learning for patients to improve their understanding, make informed decisions, and partner with their health care professionals for optimal outcomes.