Nearly 60,000 Americans will die of colon cancer this year, but that number could be cut in half if Americans over the age of 50 got tested for the disease, according to the American Cancer Society.
If caught early, colon cancer is highly treatable. March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. An early screenings may have saved one East Texan's life.
62 year old Ron Cannefax of Tyler, is going in for his second colonoscopy. Three years ago, he had his first screening and doctors found several polyps.
"What they found was a few polyps and they cut those out. The thing that they look for now is that we don't have more polyps and if does find some he will have those remove while he is doing the screening procedure," says Ron.
Dr. Aaron DuVall with Digestive Health Specialists of Tyler is going to perform Ron's colonoscopy. "There is an opportunity, there is a window that you can have a colonoscopy and the polyp removed and prevent form having colon cancer," says Dr. DuVall.
Dr. DuVall says these type of routine screenings are especially important for people over the age of 50, since they are more at risk of developing the disease.
"If you can detect it and find the problem before it gets out of hand it is treatable that's the main reason for doing it," says Ron.
Dr. DuVall says there are other methods of screening for colon cancer, but a colonoscopy is the most effective because you can be diagnosed and treated at the same time.
"A patient that has a colon polyp, 100% of the patients can be cured. So you have a disease that can be devastating in the later stages that can be cured if found, in precancerous stages," says Dr. DuVall.
During the procedure Dr. DuVall did find two polyps, but thinks they're pre-cancerous. He stresses that regular screenings may have saved Ron's life.
The procedure takes about 15 to 30 minutes. Dr. DuVall says if you have a family history of colon cancer he recommends getting a colonoscopy around the age of 40.