New Colon Cancer Screenings Hold Promise

MANHASSET, NY – Up-and-coming colon cancer screening methods outlined recently in the Wall Street Journal – including a pill containing a camera, a scope that gives nearly panoramic views and genetic testing – will be helpful for patients in the future, a hepatologist says.

Swallowing a pill will be easier on a patient than a colonoscopy because it does not require sedation, says David Bernstein, MD, chief of hepatology for the North Shore-LIJ Health System. But, he adds, if this camera finds a polyp, a traditional colonoscopy will follow. And the scope that provides nearly complete views will allow physicians to see more of the sides of the colon rather than just the forward-facing view, Dr. Bernstein says.

But these new opportunities, which are not readily available, should not deter patients from continuing to get their traditional colonoscopy because they want to hold out for better technology.

“In the past several years, we have prevented 100,000 colon cancers and saved a significant number of lives by doing this,” Dr. Bernstein says.

Most people should begin having colonoscopies performed at age 50 and then every 10 years thereafter. If polyps are found during the initial colonoscopy, depending on the type and severity, the patient should then come back about three to five years later for another colonoscopy, Dr. Bernstein says. Those with a family history of colon cancer should begin having colonoscopies sooner.

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