Maybe it’s embarrassment, misconceptions or fear of the unknown. Doctors aren’t sure why more people don’t take advantage of one of the most successful cancer screeners ever- the colonoscopy.

“Colon cancer is one of the most common cancers in this country and it is one of the leading causes of cancer death. But doesn’t have to be that way,” says Dr. Irma Cruz, gastroenterologist on Lee Memorial Health System’s medical staff.

It’s recommended for people 50 and older, younger with a family history. The colonoscopy is a painless, in-office procedure. It actually starts the evening before with fasting and a colon cleanse.

“It should be very clean so we can see,” says Dr. Cruz.

Performed under sedation, doctors inspect the lining of the large intestine- which averages about five feet long. They enter through the rectum with a flexible scope that has a light and camera.

“Basically we’re looking for polyps which are normal growths in the lining and we can remove them and this decreases the chances of getting colon cancer,” says Dr. Cruz.

Here’s what doctors see as they maneuver the scope through the colon. Using a snare, they snip the polyp, this is a demo of how it’s done.

“We open the snare; we place it over the polyp. We close the snare and the polyp is removed,” says Dr. Cruz.

The goal is to nip polyps in the bud, before they become diseased. Colonoscopy is the only screening test with the ability to prevent cancer.

“Still only 50 percent of people that should have colonoscopies actually have the procedure,” says Dr. Cruz.

Scoping out the procedure may help people confront their fears.

View More Health Matters video segments at leememorial.org/healthmatters/

Lee Memorial Health System in Fort Myers, FL is the largest network of medical care facilities in Southwest Florida and is highly respected for its expertise, innovation and quality of care. For nearly a century, we’ve been providing our community with everything from primary care treatment to highly specialized care services and robotic assisted surgeries.

Visit leememorial.org

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