Colonoscopy Prep Just Got Easier

Reporter: Shannon Samson

New Media Producer: Kerry Corum

Colon cancer is more than 90-percent preventable with regular screenings, but getting patients to undergo a colonoscopy isn't easy. One part of the test just got simpler.

Frank Carr didn't embrace the idea of getting a colonoscopy. "I just didn't like the idea of being 'invaded.'" But family members talked him into it, and not a moment too soon.

Doctors discovered he had colon cancer that required chemotherapy and surgery. That was enough to make his son Joe make an appointment to have the test done. "They found the same polyps in the same spot as what they found on my dad."

A colonoscopy can inspect the entire length of the colon. The flexible tube has a fiber optic video camera and a light, and instruments to grab cell samples. In Joe's case, those benign polyps that were growing on his colon wall were removed before they turned into cancer. He says with sedation, he didn't feel a thing.

Lois Armitage of the Ohio Valley Colon & Rectal Surgeons says, "We tell our patients 'we're not going to hurt you with a colonoscopy, it's the prep that's the tough part.'"

Before the test, patients used to have to drink a gallon of an electrolyte prep. Many complained it was just too much. So now, there's a new option. They can take laxatives in pill form and drink two 32 ounce bottles of Gatorade Ice mixed with a medication called Miralax.

Armitage says, "Personally, and I've done this before, I like the gallon because it takes less time."

She says you can drink the gallon in five or six hours, as opposed to the seven or eight hours it takes to complete the Gatorade regimen. After that, it's a piece of cake according to the Carrs.

"It's not that bad. It's just the idea of it," says Frank Carr.

An idea that may not have been pleasant, but probably saved their lives. Studies show combining an aspirin a day and a thousand milligrams of calcium is a good defense against colon cancer.

For more information, click here.