Putting Off Colonoscopy -- Bad Idea - 8 News NOW

Paula Francis, Anchor

Putting Off Colonoscopy -- Bad Idea

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Concerns over endoscopic testing procedures have some backing away from getting tested for colon cancer -- or looking for alternative methods. A local physician Eye on Health spoke with says putting it off is not a good idea.

The high-tech view of a colon is one of several options now available for the early detection of colon cancer. Las Vegas radiologist, Luke Cesaretti has seen what can happen if the cancer goes undetected.

"We can see evidence of the disease, if it's advanced, spreading into the adjacent tissues, spreading to the lymph nodes and to the liver and lungs and bones. If you find it late in those places and it's spread, sometimes it's not curable," said Dr. Cesaretti.

If found early, colon cancer has a high cure-rate. The most accurate test for early detection is the colonoscopy, in which an endoscope and camera are used to examine the colon.

There are also blood tests, along with two-dimensional CT scans, and the virtual colonoscopy. But if something turns up in these tests, you're back to square one.

"If we find what we think is a polyp or a growth inside of the colon, we can't do anything about it on our CT or virtual colonoscopy study. So the patient would then be referred to a gastroenterologist for a standard colonoscopy," said Dr. Cesaretti.

A test for colon cancer is recommended for anyone over 50. Other risk factors include family history, a high fat -- low fiber diet, diabetes, smoking and a sedentary lifestyle. Of the more than 112,000 people diagnosed with colon cancer each year -- 50,000 will die.

"It's also a little bit of denial. If I don't look and don't think about it, then I don't have it. But that's naive and that's sticking your head in the sand," said Dr. Cesaretti.

The specialist who performs the colonoscopy is a gastroenterologist. You can either get a referral from your doctor for a colonoscopy or find a specialist yourself, depending upon your insurance.

For a listing of more than a dozen of these specialists in the Las Vegas area, click here.

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