Here's a new tool that's helping doctors uncover potentially pre-cancerous polyps.
Twenty-four years ago, Frank and Linda Smith vowed to stay together in sickness and in health.
"We have no children. It's just the two of us, and I figure, I have to stay healthy for her," Frank told Ivanhoe.
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," Frank explained. "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."
When it came time for a colonoscopy, Linda and Frank turned to Dr. Seth Gross. He's using a new tool to get a better look at the five-foot long organ.
"The colon is not a smooth pipe. The colon has folds to it," Dr. Gross explained.
Those folds can act as blind spots in a traditional colonoscopy.
"Traditionally, 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," Dr. Gross said.
Dr. Gross uses the new third eye retroscope. It's inserted into the tube used for the colonoscopy. The camera and light on the end of it extends and bends, highlighting areas that typically stay in the dark.
"Allows us to position a camera behind the fold, so we can see what's on the other side, and so, this is our rear view mirror when we're pulling out of the colon," Dr. Gross explained.
Traditional colonoscopies miss 12 to 24 percent of potentially cancerous polyps. The new FDA-approved tool improves detection rates by 25 percent. It found two polyps in Frank and four in Linda.
"When you find a polyp, and you completely remove it, the risk for colon cancer in that particular area is gone, as long as the polyp is completely removed," Dr. Gross said.
"They told me one of them, if it went the other way, probably would have never been detected, but with the new procedure, they were able to find it," Frank recalled.
Good news for this couple, who won't let anything come between them.
"We'd like to grow old gracefully, so to speak," Frank said.
Doctors recommend getting a screening colonoscopy when you turn 50 or earlier if you have a family history of colon cancer or other risk factors. The disease is often referred to as a silent disease because symptoms don't show up until a precancerous polyp has progressed to cancer.
If you would like more information, please contact:
Avantis Medical Systems