Colonoscopy benefits outweigh risks

By Elizabeth Temple - bio | email

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) – After a Tulane Medical Center in New Orleans admitted to improperly sanitizing their endoscope, a device used in colonoscopies, a lawsuit surfaced. Patients claim they could be exposed to hepatitis and AIDS. Dr. Khan, oncologist at Christus St. Patrick Hospital, said, "that instance at Tulane is few and far between. It's extremely rare."

Doctors recommend having your first colonoscopy at age 50, if you do not have a family history of colon cancer, but Clyde Duhon put off the procedure for four years. He said, "the prep is the worst part and drinking the good malt." Doctors discovered polyps in his colon. "They said 'it's not cancer yet.' Then they took it out and it was."

Duhon was in stage one of colon cancer, but said he had no noticeable symptoms of the disease.

"I was just lucky. I was one of the lucky ones," said Duhon.

Colon cancer is the second most common cause of cancer death in the U.S. just after lung cancer, said Dr. Khan. He warned the worst symptoms often do not appear until the cancer is very advanced.

Besides getting a colonoscopy, he added, a low fat diet may help decrease your chance of colon cancer.

"If you eat a lot of fatty foods that food tends to retain in the colon for a prolonged period of time and that exposes your bowel to more carcinogens," explained Dr. Khan. He recommends fruits, vegetables and a high fiber diet instead.

Duhon's polyps were removed successfully, but he will continue to have colonoscopies to catch any new growth early.

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