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Screening could save your life

Nov. 02, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

Online quotes about things said while getting a colonoscopy reveal the dread and the humor that people feel when it's time for this most-probing of exams: "Can you hear me now?" "Could you write a note for my wife saying that my head is not up there?" And, "Hey doc, find my dignity yet?"

But as squeamish as you may feel about the procedure, it's one screening that produces great health benefits. (Just ask Dr. Oz, who had his televised -- and they found a polyp!) The more than 10 million people a year in North America who get scoped are the reason that the incidence of colon cancer is declining precipitously. And if everyone at normal risk for colon cancer were screened every 10 years (from age 50 until 75), it could eliminate 61 percent of distal cancers (in the lower colon) and 22 percent of proximal cancers (in the upper colon). That's because spotting and removing non- or precancerous polyps and adenomas (benign or precancerous tumors) during a colonoscopy stops colon cancer from developing.

Unfortunately, only 69 percent of men and women over 50 have ever been screened for colon cancer (colonoscopy is the most effective, but not the only method). So, if you're 50 or older and have never had a colonoscopy, ask your doctor about arranging for one. And remember: Eighty-five percent of folks who get colon cancer have no family history, so everyone needs to be screened. Chances are you won't have to do it for another 10 years.

Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of "The Dr. Oz Show," and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic.



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