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Quick GuideDigestive Disorders: Constipation Myths and Facts
How is melanosis coli diagnosed?
Melanosis coli can be observed during endoscopic procedures that examine the large intestine, such as colonoscopy and sigmoidoscopy . Sometimes the diagnosis is made upon microscopic examination of biopsies taken during endoscopic procedures.
What is the prognosis (outcome) of melanosis coli?
If a person stops using anthranoid laxatives, the changes associated with melanosis coli lessen over time and may disappear.
Early studies suggested that anthranoid laxatives might have carcinogenic or tumor-promoting activities in humans and that the presence of melanosis coli might signal an increased risk for the development of colorectal cancer. However, more recent follow-up studies have failed to show an association between colon cancer and anthranoid laxative use or between colon cancer and the finding of melanosis coli.
Medically reviewed by Avrom Simon, MD; Board Certified Preventative Medicine with Subspecialty in Occupational Medicine
REFERENCE: Shazia Ahmed, M.D., and Naresh T. Gunaratnam, M.D. Melanosis Coli. N Engl J Med 2003; 349:1349October 2, 2003