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Fun Fact of the Week 5/3: Colonoscopies can Diagnose and Cure Colon Cancer

Will Atkinson | May 3rd, 2023

Colonoscopies are valuable tools to screen for “colon polyps or bowel cancer,” offering gastroenterologists a useful mechanism to help protect against colon cancer – which takes the lives of over 50,000 Americans every year.

In 1969, In the Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City, Dr. William Wolff and Dr. Hiromi Shinya performed the first “full-length” colonoscopy to produce imaging to determine colon health. What had previously been a procedure with minimal “flexibility and control,” the development of a rod with higher motility drastically improved the effectiveness of the procedure. 

What makes colonoscopies unique compared to other diagnostic procedures is that if a precancerous growth is detected – called adenomas – can be removed by the same device. Colonoscopies therefore serve as both exploratory and preventative procedures. It is recommended that people should begin getting colonoscopies “every 7-10 years starting at age 45,” and more often if there are other colon cancer risk factors.

Works Cited

Colonoscopies Prevent Colon Cancer Deaths. National Institutes of Health (NIH). 2015 May 15 [accessed 2023 Apr 23].

Services D of H& H. Colonoscopy. [accessed 2023 Apr 23].

Colorectal Cancer Statistics | How Common Is Colorectal Cancer? [accessed 2023 Apr 23].

The Colonoscopy: A Historical Timeline | Gastroenterology Health Partners. [accessed 2023 Apr 23].

Why early screening for colorectal cancer could save your life. [accessed 2023 Apr 23].