Colonoscopies: They're nothing to be afraid of

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by Mia Gradney / KHOU 11 News

khou.com

Posted on September 20, 2012 at 1:51 PM

HOUSTON—One hundred and fifty thousand people will be diagnosed colon cancer this year. Sadly, 50, 000 thousand will die from it. But most of them don’t have to.

”Colon cancer is the number two cancer killer in America of both men and women,” said Dr. Zuri Murrell, a colorectal surgeon, adding that colon cancer is only second to lung cancer.

”Colonoscopies are done to prevent cancer. And I think that’s what makes this disease so preventable and so treatable,” Dr. Murrell said.

Experts like Dr. Murrell are trying to increase awareness and educate others about colonoscopies, especially since guidelines have been revised. Revisions include white men and women getting their first colonoscopy at 50 if there’s no family history. But for African- Americans, the age has changed to 45.

Preparation has changed, too. Traditionally, patients would have to drink four liters of an awful-tasting, prescribed liquid the day before a colonoscopy. Now there’s a new preparation. Patients should drink 64 ounces of Gatorade, mixed with 230 grams of Miralax and three tablespoons of Milk of Magnesia. “It tastes better and it can be bought over the counter without needing a prescription,” adds Dr. Murrell.

To further reduce your risk of colon cancer, cut hot dogs out of your diet. The Texas Medical Association says they are full of nitrites and increase the risk of cancer. The American Cancer Society says pork may worsen colon health because it’s high in fat and iron.

The number one food to avoid? Beef,” Dr. Murrell said. “We know the people who don’t get it (colon cancer), don’t eat a lot of red meats.”

Soon there may be an at-home screening test to make the entire process even easier and more private. The experimental DNA test can find abnormalities in a person’s stool and possibly alert them to any pre-cancerous tumors. In a recent study, the DNA test detected 87 percent of colorectal cancers in curable stages.

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