Colonoscopy detects third-leading cancer related death

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC 4 UTAH)- Nearly 100,00 people will be diagnosed with a silent killer and it’s completely preventable with early screening according to the American Cancer Society. March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month. We take a journey with a Woods Cross woman determined to limit her risk.

It’s a journey down a winding tunnel through the key to your digestive system and a place where colon cancer forms.

“I’ve been kind of putting it off for a little bit, but now I’ve finally decided it was time,” said Bonnie Craig from Woods Cross.

Bonnie Craig is prepped and ready to get her first endoscopy. It’s the best screening for colon cancer once you hit age 50. Endoscopy Director for the Urban Central Region at Intermountain Healthcare Dr. Clarke Hilbig says a little discomfort now, will prevent tens of thousands in medical costs and worse treatments if cancer is spotted later on.

“Sometimes there's a little embarrassment, sometimes it feels inconvenient, this is one of those opportunities you can be proactive in your health,” said Intermountain Medical Center Dr. Clarke Hilbig.

With the 15 minute screening underway, Dr. Hilbig keeps his eye out for polyps. Polyps are growths that can progress to cancer. And sure enough…

“This is a polyp and it's flat,” said Dr. Hilbig.

A few minutes into the screening, Dr. Hilbig finds a small, flat polyp along the wall of Bonnie’s colon. Dr. Hilbig says it’s likely not a cancerous growth now, but if left undetected could’ve formed into a malignant growth.

“We're going to biopsy this and we're going to use a snare to cauterize it,” said Dr. Hilbig.

Dr. Hilbig only found one polyp in Bonnie’s colon. So in no time at all, the endoscopy is over. Bonnie is awake and wheeled off to a recovery room.

“I’m really happy that I came and had it done. Just because I wasn't really expecting them to find anything,” said Bonnie Craig.

If doctors don’t find anything, you don’t have to do another endoscopy for another ten years. In Bonnie’s case, they’ll send her the results of her polyp’s biopsy. If everything tests well, she won’t have to come back for another five years.

“I’m relieved because now I know that my decision to come in was a good one and I shouldn't have to worry about that part of my health for some time to come,” said Craig.

Again, doctors suggest you get your first endoscopy at the age of 50. That’s the same guideline for men and women. Bonnie Craig said the toughest part of the screening was not eating for 24 hours before the procedure. But Dr. Hilbig says new technology means you shouldn’t feel anything. Shortly after the endoscopy, you’re clear to go home.

To read more about colon cancer click here.

More Stories

Latest News

Video Center