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C.O. doctors: Colon cancer screening crucial

By Alicia Inns
Published On: Nov 06 2013 09:11:45 PM CST

NewsChannel 21's Alicia Inns talks with doctors about screening for colon cancer after CDC reports fewer people getting colonoscopys.

BEND, Ore. -

Colon cancer  -- it's the No. 2 cancer killer in the U.S.

But there are steps you can -- and need -- to take -- ones that can save your life.

"We know that screening will catch those people before it has a chance to spread,  and when they're found, they'll be curable. So it's the difference between life and death," said Dr. Brian Erickson, an oncologist with Bend Memorial Clinic.

The Centers for Disease Control reports one in three adults over age 50 has not undergone tests to detect colon cancer.     

"Most people who feel great don't think they need a colonoscopy," said Dr. Cristina Hatara, a gastroenterologist at BMC. "I had a patient recently that I saw, and she waited until she was 65 -- and luckily, she did have a small cancer that was easily removed."

Waiting to get screened can be deadly.

"By the time you have symptoms of colon cancer, you're incurable," Erickson said.

I wanted to find out who in the NewsChannel 21 newsroom and sales department at or over the age of 50y has been screened.

Out of the six people I asked, four men and two women, only one said no.

So we rounded out pretty well. But the low number of Americans getting screened could have a lot to do with misconceptions about the exam and just plain embarrassment.

"People say, 'I talked to my friend and I just don't want all of that, I don't want to go through the prep and all that,' And I say, 'Really? That's the difference between you having the test and not -- just a little embarrassment?'" Erickson said.

Doctors say financial issues can also turn people away, but there are other types of screenings, besides a colonoscopy.

The key is to talk to your doctor -- and don't wait.

"If you screen and find it early, you have a much better chance of being cured than waiting for something bad to happen," Erickson said.

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