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Colonoscopy not done by over 20M Americans, CDC report shows

A new report from the CDC finds more than 20 million Americans, ages 50 to 75, have not had a colonoscopy.
November 5, 2013 12:00:00 AM PST
One out of three Americans who should get a lifesaving cancer test are skipping it. A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finds more than 20 million Americans, 50 to 75, have not had a colonoscopy.

One local couple hopes to clear up the misconceptions people have about colon cancer screening. Fifty years of marriage, and Lisa and Henry August of Chatsworth still do everything together, including colonoscopy screenings.

"I always let my wife first to make sure everything is working well, then I take a turn too," said Henry August.

Both have had a sibling who died young from the disease so they always encourage others to get tested. Now, a new CDC report finds they need to reach a lot of people -- 23 million Americans who should be getting screened and are not.

"It's not something that anybody wants to volunteer to do if they aren't really pushed to do it," said Dr. Donald David, the chief of gastroenterology at City of Hope.

The chief of Gastroenterology at City of Hope says many people mistakenly believe they can't afford it.

"It's a completely covered benefit, so for most of our patients, if we're doing it for screening, it's usually no out-of-pocket cost to the patient," said David.

Also, the preparation before the test is not as burdensome as it used to be. The CDC says people who skipped the screening said they didn't get clear advice from their doctors. David says patients should speak up.

"Many patients are getting savvy enough to say, 'I'm 50 now, and I think that it's time for me to have this done,'" said David.

Data shows although screening with colonoscopy has gone up in the past 10 years, other techniques, such as the fecal occult blood test, which is an at-home test that can detect cancer by finding blood in the stools, has gone down.

"It's not painful, but it is a little bit of a hassle, and some patients actually would prefer to just have the colonoscopy done and not have to deal with any specimens or mailing or anything else. It's just a one time thing," said David.

During her colonoscopy, Lisa August had polyps removed. The test gives her peace of mind.

"Once you do that and it's clear and they tell you you're great and it's over so fast, you feel safe," she said.

The couple that screens together, stay alive together.


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