Colonoscopy FAQs


Dr. Nowain seen performing a colonoscopy.

Here are some frequently asked questions on Dr. Ari Nowain’s preferred colon cancer screening method, the colonoscopy. If you have more detailed questions than provided in this colonoscopy FAQ or want to schedule an appointment to get screened, contact Dr. Nowain’s office at (310) 657-4444.

Q: What is colon cancer?

A: Colon cancer is any cancer that forms in the tissues of the colon. (Colorectal cancer forms in either the colon or rectal tissue.) Colon cancer generally develop slowly over a period of years, during which there are few, if any, symptoms. As a result, Dr. Nowain recommends colonoscopy screenings to identify and remove colon polyps before they turn into cancerous tissue.

Q: What is a colon polyp?

A: A colon polyp is a small growth in the lining of the colon. Polyps tend to be benign or pre-cancerous. The only way to diagnose a pre-cancerous polyp is through laboratory testing.

Q: How common is colon cancer?

A: In the United States, colon cancer causes the second-most cancer deaths. Each year, the U.S. sees about 150,000 new cases of colorectal cancer and approximately 50,000 colon cancer deaths. This is a shame because colon cancer deaths can be prevented.

Q: How do I prevent colon cancer from forming?

A: The best way to prevent colon cancer is through a healthy diet, regular exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, and regular colon cancer screenings.

Healthy diets include:

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Whole grains

Healthy diets avoid:

  • Processed meats
  • Red meat
  • Processed food

Q: When should I have my first colonoscopy?

A: Those without a family history of colon cancer should begin screenings at the age of 50. If you are African-American you should begin screening at the age of 45. If you have a family history of colon cancer, you should begin screening 10 years before the age at which your relative was diagnosed (i.e. if your father was diagnosed with colon cancer when he was 52, you should receive your first colonoscopy at the age of 42).

Q: How often should I have a colonoscopy?

A: This is determined by the type, size, and quantity of any polyps that are found during colonoscopy. Your doctor will discuss your individual results with you to determine the appropriate timing for your next colonoscopy.

Q: Is there an age where I don’t need to have screenings anymore?

A: The answer depends on your family history of the disease and your overall health. If you are 75 and in good health, it is recommended to continue screenings. Ultimately, you should discuss this with your doctor.

Q: What is a Third Eye® colonoscopy?

A: A Third Eye colonoscopy involves the usage of the Third Eye Retroscope, a backward-viewing camera, along with a standard, forward-viewing colonoscope to provide a more comprehensive view of the colon. The retrograde, or backward, view further enhances a GI doctor’s ability to locate and remove pre-cancerous colon polyps. Similar to a “rearview mirror” in a car, the Third Eye colonoscopy allows gastroenterologists like Dr. Nowain to see areas that would normally act as “blind spots” during a standard colonoscope, such as behind folds in the colon wall where polyps can be hidden. This camera extends beyond the tip of the colonoscope, automatically turning 180 degrees to provide a retrograde view. Now, doctors can simultaneously observe two video images, the forward view of the colonoscope and the retrograde image of the Third Eye.

Q: Are colonoscopies covered by insurance?

A: Colonoscopies are viewed as necessary procedures and generally covered by insurance, including Medicare.

Q: Can I eat the day before my colonoscopy?

A: No. You cannot eat solid food before a colonoscopy, however,  clear liquids are allowed. It is important to have an empty bowel so your doctor can easily spot any polyps. The last time you should have anything by mouth is 6 hours before your procedure.  Please visit our pre-colonoscopy instructions for more information.

Q: Will the colonoscopy hurt?

A: No. A colonoscopy should not be painful because patients are sedated during the procedure. Patients are discharged home the same day without pain.

Q: Can I drive home after a colonoscopy?

A: No. Our office cannot allow you to drive after a colonoscopy. During the procedure you will be sedated and though you may feel fine afterwards, the medication is still in your system.

Q: I feel a little gassy after my colonoscopy, is that normal?

A: Yes. Air is introduced during a colonoscopy so the doctor can get a good view of the lining of the intestines. Dr. Nowain makes every effort to remove that air so his patients generally do not wake up feeling gassy or bloated. For the few patients who do experience this, symptoms are mild and usually short lasting.

Q: Are there any other colon cancer screening procedures?

A: Yes. Check out this page on alternative colon cancer screening options.

Q: Who is the best doctor for a colonoscopy screening?

A: Both gastroenterologists (GI doctors like Dr. Nowain) and colorectal surgeons are qualified to perform this colon cancer screening test. We might be a little biased, but Dr. Nowain is one of the best doctors around the Beverly Hills/Los Angeles area at this procedure. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Nowain, call his office at (310) 657-4444 or fill out the online contact form in the website sidebar.