Colon cancer: The The "Gold Standard" for Early Detection

Armen Hareyan's picture
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Preventing the second most common cause of cancer deaths in both men and women is a matter of undergoing a 20-minute screening examination while taking a nap. The most sensitive and accurate of the screening methods available is, unfortunately, also the most physically invasive.

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"Colonoscopy requires a whole bowel preparation and the procedure is usually performed with some sedation," says Dr. Michael Saunders, clinical assistant professor in the division of gastroenterology in the University of Washington School of Medicine. "Resistance to undergoing the screening has become less commonplace, thanks mainly to television host Katie Couric. She really has improved the popular acceptance of this procedure. Studies have shown that the compliance rate for screening colonoscopies has doubled since the broadcast of her own colon cancer screening."

There are alternatives to colonoscopy, but they aren't as sensitive.

"The least invasive screening test is the hemoccult card, a means of detecting blood in the stool," Saunders says.

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