Brigham and Women's Hospital


Brigham and Women's Hospital is at the forefront of advances in the diagnosis, treatment, and research of colon conditions.

Life. Giving.

Brigham and Women's Hospital - US News Top HospitalBrigham and Women's Hospital offers world-renowned gastroenterology care at our main campus in the Longwood Medical Area of Boston and locations throughout the greater Boston area.

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Understanding is the first step to feeling better.

What is a colonoscopy?

Colonoscopy is a diagnostic procedure that allows the physician to examine the entire length of the large intestine. During the procedure - as simulated in this animation - a thin, flexible, lighted tube, called a colonoscope, is placed into the rectum and colon. In addition to allowing visualization of the internal colon, the colonoscope enables the physician to irrigate, suction, inject air, and access the bowel with surgical instruments. During a colonoscopy, the physician may remove tissue and/or polyps for further examination and possibly treat any problems that are discovered.

What is the purpose of a colonoscopy?

Colonoscopy is used to screen for colorectal cancer, the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the US and the fourth most common cancer in men and women. Patients often don't feel any symptoms during the early stages of colon cancer, but a colonoscopy can provide your doctor with visual evidence. Colonoscopy also can assist in identifying other problems with the colon, such as inflamed tissue, ulcers, and bleeding.

What are the screening guidelines for colorectal cancer?

Colorectal cancer screening guidelines from the American Cancer Society recommend that beginning at age 50, both men and women should follow one of the examination schedules below:

  • annual fecal occult blood test (FOBT) or fecal immunochemical test (FIT) and flexible sigmoidoscopy (FSIG) every five years
  • FOBT or FIT every year
  • FSIG every five years
  • double-contrast barium enema every five years
  • colonoscopy every 10 years

Persons with any of the following colorectal cancer risk factors should begin screening procedures at an earlier age and be screened more often:

  • strong family history of colorectal cancer or benign polyps in a first-degree relative, in a parent or sibling before the age of 60, or in two first-degree relatives of any age
  • family with hereditary colorectal cancer syndromes
  • personal history of colorectal cancer or benign polyps
  • personal history of chronic inflammatory bowel disease

Innovative treatments that can make a difference.


The Endoscopy Center at Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH) offers inpatient evaluations, outpatient evaluations and treatments for disorders of the esophagus, stomach, small bowel, colon and the biliary/pancreatic system. The program's world-class reputation is evidenced by its status as one of only 17 endoscopy programs in the world to be named as a Center of Excellence by the World Organization of Digestive Endoscopy.

Treatments during a colonoscopy
  • Cauterization - Bleeding can be controlled by applying medicines through the endoscope onto any area of bleeding. The endoscopist can also insert a thin heated wire to seal blood vessels.
  • Polyp removal - Polyps are small growths on the inner wall of the colon. They are typically noncancerous, but can grow and eventually become cancerous. For this reason, any detected polyps are removed during a colonoscopy.

Trust your care to one of the very best.


Brigham and Women's Hospital is world-renowned in virtually every area of adult medicine. As a teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School, our leadership in patient quality and safety, development of state-of-the-art treatments and technologies, and robust research programs have improved the health of people around the world.

The Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Endoscopy is committed to the hospital's mission to expand the boundaries of gastroenterology diagnosis, treatment and related medicine through research. We seek to advance continually our understanding of patients' gastroenterology symptoms and problems at all levels, and continue to bring forth new, innovative, safer and more effective methods of treatment.

Our services are delivered with the care and compassion you would expect from an organization that has been consistently ranked as one of America's best hospitals on the U.S. News & World Report® Honor Roll, and as one of the top providers of gastroenterology care in the country.

Patient and Family-centered Care

At Brigham and Women's Hospital, we are committed to excellence in everything we do. We recognize that this involves much more than providing the highest quality medical care and outcomes. It's also how we work to make it convenient to set appointments and complete lab work. It's the way we listen to your concerns, and clearly communicate with you and your primary care physician.

At Brigham and Women's Hospital, we do everything possible for you and your family – providing the information, support, care, and comfort you need to have the best care experience possible.


Along with patient care and teaching excellence, research is a core value of Brigham and Women's Hospital. Each day, our research community embodies what it means to be part of an academic medical center – a place where science, learning, and clinical care meet to benefit our patients and their families.

Our physician-scientists, nurses, and clinical and research fellows ask questions and find answers to some of medicine's most challenging problems, including heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer's disease. Our patients are also able to be part of the solution by participating in research.

Our substantial commitment to research is measured by our number of important discoveries, the size and scope of our research portfolio, and our volume of scientific publications. Our virtual Biomedical Research Institute (BRI), formed in 2005, enhances our role as a worldwide leader in scientific discovery – bringing together all investigators around an increasing number of core services and a wide array of administrative resources.

Meet the experts.

As a teaching affiliate of Harvard University, we are home to many of the top physicians in the nation. Along with using the latest research, state-of-the-art treatments and advanced technologies, our doctors work in teams with other physicians and health care professionals to provide the best care possible.