Preventing colon cancer - Los Angeles News | FOX 11 LA KTTV

Preventing colon cancer

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(WJBK) -

Colon cancer is the number two cancer killer, and yet it's almost always preventable.

A fear of colonoscopies is common. Only about half of adults who should get screened actually do. One concern is the so-called prep to clean out your colon, but the procedure has improved.

"We can put your prep in Gatorade or water and it tastes just like what you put it in, which is nice, and the volume is a lot smaller than what it used to be in the past," says Dr. Anezi Bakken, a gastroenterologist at Beaumont Hospital.

Beyond the prep, the other concern is the scope that's inserted to give doctors a detailed glimpse of about 8 feet of colon.

"The fiber optics of these scopes are amazing. It gives us excellent magnification, excellent visualization, and they are soft scopes so they're easy on the patients," says Dr. Harry Wasvary, a colorectal surgeon at Beaumont.

A giant, inflatable colon is on display now at Beaumont Hospital helping patients see first hand what can go wrong inside their bodies. With a colonoscopy doctors are searching for these polyps which could be harmless or serious.
"A small polyp grows to become a big polyp, and a big polyp can grow to become cancer. Our goal [is to] pluck it early while it's small and avoid that cancer," says Wasvary.

That's why your first colonoscopy is recommended at the age of 50. If you're black or have other risks factors, you might start sooner.

Colon cancer is unusual in that it's one of the only cancers in which the screening process can also prevent and treat the cancer.

"Colon cancer, you can prevent it by getting a colonoscopy, which takes 20 minutes , you're sleeping , you're taking a nap. You wake up and the polyp is removed, and then you don't even have to have colon cancer," Bakken says.

Doctors say risks with colonoscopy are very rare, but can include bleeding or reaction to sedation.

LINK: Click here for more information on colorectal cancer

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