Archive for November 20th, 2009

Colonoscopies: a sure way to save thousands of lives every year.

November 20, 2009 | By | 3 Replies More
Colonoscopies: a sure way to save thousands of lives every year.

Every year 50,000 Americans die of colon cancer or rectal cancer (combined, they are referred to as colorectal cancer). If Americans over 50 years of age (and those in other higher risk categories) were screened for colorectal cancer as recommended, 80% of these cancer deaths could be avoided.

These numbers are staggering. To put them in perspective, about 3,000 Americans died during the 9/11 attacks, which caused this country to become apoplectic to the point where it started an entirely needless war that is currently in its seventh year. Needlessly undiagnosed colon cancer takes the lives of more than ten times as many Americans as 9/11 every year. Needlessly undiagnosed colon cancer killed enough Americans over the past twelve months to fill an entire major league baseball stadium. So where is the “war on colon cancer?

My insurance company just send me a mailer reminding me of the importance of obtaining a colonoscopy, the gold standard for detecting and preventing colorectal cancer. The statistics are so stark that it would be irrational for anyone to not proceed with this procedure, even though going through with it are less than pleasant.

Given that I’m 53 and I’ve never had such a procedure, I signed up. I started looking for information on the internet and found this highly informative video introduced by Katie Couric and featuring Dr. Jon LaPook, a gastroenterologist, who undergoes a colonoscopy on camera to demonstrate both the preparation and the procedure. After viewing this video, the entire thing looks a lot less daunting.

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