Few cancer screening tests prevent cancer from occurring. That's not the case with colonscopy. It can actually remove polypswhich may later develop into cancer.
This procedure turns a lot of people off, therefore they won't go through the procedure. And that explains why roughly a third of colon cancer deaths are unnecessary . . . they could be avoided with proper screening.
Tonight we saw our patient, Susie Robinson from the American Cancer Society, sedated and undergoing a colonoscopy.
The big question, why did she decide to do this?
One reason: "Seeing is Believeing"
"Its important, especially in this position that you walk your talk and not just preach to other people and say hey this is a great thing to do, but I'm sure not going to do it," Robinson says.
As American Cancer Society's Regional Executive Director, Susie
Robinson likes to make people aware of all kinds of cancers, especially
She wasn't shy about telling people what she was going to do this week. "But I'm doing it live on Channel 8 on Tuesday if you
want to watch," she told one friend.
Those who have had the procedure and those who perfom it say in general the worst part of colonoscopy is the prep work.
Says Dr. Craig Sande: "You still get cramps, you still get diarrhea there is no way around that. You are going to spend several hours in the bathroom. Some people find it no problem at all, other people complain bitterly about it I wish there was another way but unfortunately there is not."
"Do a morning preparation," Dr. Sande suggests.
There are varying colon cleansing options for patients about to have
colonoscopy. But the prep work is important because a doctor needs a
clear view of the colon lining.
In a colonscopy the entire length of the colon is examined. A flexible
tube with a fiber optic camera and light is used to not only grab cell
samples. But it can also remove precancerous polyps that may be growing in the colon wall.
The procedure with the potential of eliminating cancer is not cheap - it can cost up to $1,600 and, until recently, many insurance
companies would not pay for it . . . even if they did cover the cost of
colon cancer treatment.
But last year state law makers passsed a bill which requires
insurance companies to pay for colonscopy in certain cases regardless of if that insurance company is self-insured or not. Governor Guinn signed the bill, which went into effect in October.
Says Buffy Martin of the American Cancer Society: "You are due for a colonoscopy if you are over 50 or you have a history of the disease. If you are 35 years old and you lost your father to cancer by statue that would make you eligible for a colonoscopy."
If you have any questions about colonscopy or other screening
methods as well as colon cancer itself, contact the American Cancer Society at 329-0609.
Tomorrrow we'll follow-up with Susie to see what she remembers about this procdure and if she's still glad she went through
it - particularly on live television.