The American Cancer Society is launching a national initiative to try to get more people screened for colon cancer. During the next four years, it's hoping 80 percent of older people will get the screening they need. This comes as a new study shows colonoscopies are reducing colon cancer cases in the U.S. and saving lives.
Fifty-one year old James Ricchiuti is relieved. He can say that after a colonoscopy found two polyps. "From what I'm told, one of the two polyps would have turned into cancer," Ricchiuti said.
He had a routine colonoscopy after he turned 50, which is the recommended age to start colon cancer screening. Now a new study from the American Cancer Society shows screening is paying off. The number of colon cancer cases has dropped thirty percent in the last decade for those 50 years and older.
"It's a great public health triumph. We have a lot more work to go but we're not beginning from scratch," said Dr. Richard Wender with the American Cancer Society.
Research shows the number of adults having colonoscopies has tripled in recent years, causing the drop in colon cancer cases. The largest decrease is in Americans 65 and older. Death rates are also dropping.
"Colon cancer is one of the probably most preventable cancers and one of the most curable cancers that we deal with," said Dr. Sang Lee with NYP-Weill Cornell Medical College.
Ricchiuti is doing well after his polyps were removed. He recommends others undergo a colonoscopy. "It really isn't a big deal -- just, just go through it," he said. He doesn't need another colonoscopy for ten years.
Wendy Gillette - CBS News
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