Prepare for your colonoscopy with these simple tips from Dr. Lynn Butterly, Director of the Colorectal Cancer Screening Program at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center.
Colorectal cancer is the second most common cause of cancer death in the United States — yet it’s one of the few we can prevent. Prevention and detection are the keys to beating colorectal cancer.
The colonoscopy uses a thin, flexible tube through which your doctor can detect polyps with a tiny camera, and even remove them without discomfort in a matter of seconds. Preparing as effectively as possible for a colonoscopy gives your doctor the best chance of finding even the smallest polyps.
Your doctor will prescribe you the “prep” medication that you will drink beforehand, but you will also want to have other materials on hand for the “clear liquid diet” that you’ll have to be on as well.
Clear liquids include apple juice, ginger ale, Jell-O, broth or bouillon. Hard candies may even be OK as well.
You also may want to have extra toilet paper, special wipes, or magazines or books.
Drink one glass every 15 minutes or so until you feel full, then take a break to let it work through your system. Don’t get discouraged as you work your way through the jug; just remember, possibly having undiscovered colorectal cancer will be harder than this preparation!
The “split prep” is another option. You would do most of your prep in the afternoon and night, then finish the prep first thing in the morning, if your endoscopy center recommends it. Remember that you have to finish the prep at least an hour and a half before your appointment.
You can flavor your prep with a colorless flavor of Crystal Light (flavor each glass, not the whole jug). We encourage you to use more than one flavor for variety’s sake.
Again, your own endoscopist may have different recommendations than what we have suggested here. Check with your provider for specific instructions.
Learn more about our colorectal screening program at