New tool helps detect colon cancer sooner

July 22, 2010 4:44:11 PM PDT
Colon cancer is a silent disease that kills almost 50,000 people every year, but now doctors have a new tool that makes colonoscopies less invasive and early detection easier.

24 years ago, Frank and Linda Smith vowed to stay together in sickness and in health. They're keeping that promise by staying one step ahead of colon cancer.

"My father had colon cancer. I saw what he had to go through. I made a point then that i was going to make sure that we did everything we could to prevent that from happening to us," said Frank.

When it came time for a colonoscopy, the Smiths turned to Dr. Seth Gross, M.D. Director of Advanced Endoscopy.

He uses the new Third Eye Retroscope, a new tool that allows him to get better view of the five-foot long organ and uncover hard-to-find polyps that might exist within the folds of the colon's tissue by highlighting areas that are usually left in the dark.

Traditional colonoscopies usually miss approximately 12%-24% of potentially cancerous polyps.

"We would move our colonoscope to push the fold out of the way to see the other side, but even with that technique, there's a chance we can miss polyps," said Dr. Gross.

However, the new FDA approved tool improves detection rates by 25%.

It found four polyps in linda and two in Frank.

"They told me one of them, if it went the other way, probably would have never been detected," said frank.

To prevent colon cancer, doctors recommend getting a colonoscopy when you turn 50, or earlier if you have a family history of colon cancer.