New technology can help calm fears of colonoscopies

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Posted: Friday, November 16, 2012 4:15 pm | Updated: 4:42 pm, Wed Jul 3, 2013.

It's a test that can save lives, but a lot of people are afraid of getting it done -- or uncomfortable about how the screening is performed. But now there are new technologies that could calm people's fears and revolutionize colonoscopies.

"I don't know anyone that looks forward to that."

It's enough to make some people break out in a cold sweat. But now, new improved colonoscopies can detect and remove pre-cancerous polyps before they turn deadly.

"The key is to find out if you have a predisposition to cancer," says Dr. George Triadafilopoulos, a gastroenterologist at Stanford University.

A new LED camera fits through a regular colonoscopy catheter. Instead of just seeing what's ahead, it can also find hard to see polyps, hiding in folds. "Third Eye is a special device that allows us to examine the bowl by looking backwards, almost like having a rearview mirror on your bike or your car," says Dr. Triadafilopoulos.

Traditional colonoscopies miss 12-24% of polyps. The FDA approved camera improves detection rates by 25%.

Even less-invasive tests are now being studied. One doesn't require laxative preparation or sedation. CT scans locate possible lesions in fecal matter. The scans are run through the lab where pre-cancerous problems can be spotted.

And some patients are now trying out an at-home option. The new DNA test locates abnormalities in the patient’s stool. In a recent study, the test detected 87% of colorectal cancers in curable stages.

"It's as easy as it comes; it's that easy." Helping make colonoscopies less of a concern.

Many cases of colon cancer have no symptoms. But if you do have abdominal pain, blood in your stool, diarrhea or weight loss for unknown reasons, call your doctor to schedule a colonoscopy.

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