Published on July 15, 2013

The best colon cancer screening?

Dr. Mervyn Danilewitz explains why you need a colonoscopy.

Mervyn DanilewitzMany people avoid having a colonoscopy because they’re scared, says Mervyn Danilewitz, MD, a gastroenterologist at Mercy Philadelphia.

“But it really isn’t that bad. Colon screenings have actually gotten much easier to tolerate,” says Dr. Danilewitz.

Colorectal cancer is the third-leading cause of cancer-related deaths in this country, but it can be prevented. “Most patients who do have pre-cancerous polyps can have them successfully removed at the time of colonoscopy if we detect them early,” says Dr. Danilewitz. “The earlier they are detected, the better.”

Screening Know-How:

  • Those without a family history of colon cancer, and with no symptoms, should start screenings at age 50, and be screened at least every 10 years.
  • New guidelines recommend that African-Americans without a family history of colon cancer have their first screening at age 45.
  • “If a parent or sibling had colon cancer, you should start your screenings 10 years earlier than the age your family member was at the time of diagnosis,” advises Dr. Danilewitz.