What are biopsies tested for during a colonoscopy?

According to American Cancer Society, colon cancer is the third most common cancer in both men and women in the United States. Symptoms of colon cancer are the same as symptoms of other diseases. To determine the cause of these symptoms, a colonoscopy and biopsy may be done.

These diagnostic tests will help your doctor determine what treatments may be needed. Biopsies are tested to determine which disease may be causing your symptoms.


A colonoscopy allows your doctor to see inside your colon and rectum. This test allows your doctor to detect inflamed tissue, ulcers or unusual growths which may be the beginnings of cancer. A colonoscopy is used to diagnosis the reason for changes in your bowel movements, abdominal pain, rectal bleeding or unexplained weight loss. A colonoscopy is an outpatient procedure, and recovery is usually quick.


During the colonoscopy, your doctor may decide to remove a small sample of tissue for testing. This removal of tissue is called a biopsy. Tissue removed can be viewed under a microscope and tested for any signs of disease. Testing tissue removed during a biopsy will tell your doctor what illness may be causing your symptoms.


Tissue removed during a biopsy may reveal cancerous cells. This tissue may come from abnormal growths like polyps and tumours or from inflamed lining tissue. Early detection of colorectal cancer helps improve your chances of recovery. Cancerous cells form when normal cells mutate and grow uncontrolled. A biopsy can help detect cancerous cells before they have grown into tumours and created blockages in the colon.


Polyps are growths that stick out from the lining of your colon or rectum. Polyps can be the beginning of cancer. Polyps are precancerous growths that can increase your risk of developing cancer. During a colonoscopy your doctor will remove any polyps found. Removing polyps can help prevent your from developing cancer.


When tissue becomes infected your body's immune systems fights back by sending white blood cells to the infected area. As your white blood cells collect in the area pus begin to form. A build up of fluid, live and dead white blood cells, dead tissue and bacteria can form. This abscess can cause pain, changes to your bowel movements and bleeding. Infected tissue removed during a biopsy can be tested to determine what is causing the abscess. Most abscesses are treated with antibiotics to stop the infection.

Chronic Diseases

Your biopsy may also be tested for chronic inflammatory bowel diseases. Crohn's disease is a chronic inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract. Hirschsprung's disease is the chronic blockage of the large intestine due to improper muscle movement. Ulcerative colitis repeated swelling of the intestines which leads to thickening of walls with scar tissue. Tissue tested can help your doctor determine which of these chronic diseases you have and which treatments would be best.