Healthy Living: Screening for colon cancer
While colon cancer screening rates nationwide are improving, only half of all Americans at risk have received a colonoscopy. Those numbers are even lower in minority groups. Casey Bortnick reports.
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At age 70, Lillie Robinson is in great shape.
"I do a lot of exercise, we have a fitness center," she explained.
But as health conscious as she is, Lillie avoided a routine cancer screening for 20 years.
"The thought of it scares the majority of the people, especially in my race," said Robinson.
As an African American, Lillie is at a greater risk of developing colon cancer. Doctors like Jeffrey Goldstein aren't sure why.
"There may be a genetic basis…some environmental factors," said Dr. Goldstein.
Because of the risks, the American College of Gastroenterology recently changed its guidelines, urging African Americans to get screened for colon cancer five years earlier.
"What I do in my African American population is screen them at age 45," explained Dr. Goldstein.
While screening rates nationwide are improving, only half of all Americans at risk have received a colonoscopy. Those numbers are even lower in minority groups.
"I think people are squeamish about the whole topic but we try to make them as comfortable as they can about the whole topic. We try to make them as comfortable as we can," said Dr. Goldstein.
Lillie recently had her second colonoscopy.
"It's just so simple and it does not hurt," she explained.
Dr. Goldstein said not only is the procedure easier than most people think, it works.
"Recent studies show that will reduce the impact of colon cancer because if you remove the polyp you interrupt the sequence," said Dr. Goldstein.
After putting off this screening for years, Lillie knows she's lucky. With two children already over the age of 45, Lillie's determined to make sure they don't make the same mistake she did.
"They just think that's a part of my body I just don't want to be seen. But it's very important that it is," she said.