Modern Medicine: Colonoscopies Save Lives - WMBB News 13 - The Panhandle's News Leader

Modern Medicine: Colonoscopies Save Lives

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Panama City, Fla. -

March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness month, and it's time to talk about a test that many people dread...the colonoscopy.  Doctors say it's actually a simple test that could save your life.  Starting at 50 years old, all of us should have it done.

Michael Donaldson, 56 years old, had a routine colonoscopy.  

"They found some polyps, 6 or 7 polyps, they needed to remove, and they found a large one they needed to remove.  It came back as cancer," Donaldson tells News 13.   

Gastroenterologist Dr. Christopher Wells at the Digestive Diseases Center says polyps and early cancers don't normally cause symptoms, and that's why getting a colonoscopy is so important.

"The purpose is to inspect the lining of the colon to look for any types of growths, and in the cases of polyps or small growths, those can be removed during the procedure.  The goal there is to prevent cancer from ever forming, and the majority of colon cancers are preventable by removing polyps," explains Dr. Wells.

Donaldson delayed having his colonoscopy for a few years after turning 50.  He says if he'd had it earlier, he might not have had to go through surgery to remove seven or eight inches of his colon.

His words of advice are simple, "Don't put it off. I've told all my friends at work and everything. You've turned 50...let's get this thing done. "

Dr. Wells says in the future, he does expect less invasive screening tests.  However, the colonoscopy is the most comprehensive screening tool available at this time.  He emphasizes that the worst part is the bowel prep that's done a day prior to the test, but the actual test is not painful and is done under anesthesia.