The screening that can prevent cancer many people would like to avoid

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Clara Carruth makes regular follow up visits to the doctor.  Clara is a 17-year survivor of colon cancer. Doctors caught her cancer early. Clara's dad wasn't so lucky. Her mom all but forced him to get a colonoscopy, but by then it was too late.  According to Clara, "They found a tumor the size of an orange. So they removed a large portion of his colon and he ended up passing away."

Colonoscopy is one of the few screenings that can actually prevent cancer. That's because the procedure makes it possible to spot and remove polyps before they are cancer.  Yet, Dr. Charles Berggreen says too many people remain blissfully ignorant. Making colon cancer the "second-leading cause of cancer death in women, third-leading cause in men and an overall lifetime incidents of colon cancer in the general population of 50 percent."

Many people cringe at the thought of having a camera-tipped scope placed in the colon. Even though, the way it's done, there's no pain. Most patients are lightly sedated.  Berggreen says there's another reason some people avoid colonoscopies. "Used to be you drank a big gallon of this salty, lemonade-like solution and it was hard to get that whole gallon down. Now there's less volume and its not as difficult,"

Of all the reasons people choose not to have a colonoscopy, the growing number of people without health insurance because they've lost their jobs has become a big one.  Unphased, Clara Carruth says the American Cancer Society can help with that.  She works there. "Its not a pretty picture if you put it off and there is something wrong it's better to man up and get it down." Everyone should have a colonoscopy at age 50. African Americans and people with a family history before that.  To learn more about colonoscopies, recommendations for when to have them and the warning signs for colon cancer, click here or here.  If you don't think you can afford a colonoscopy, call the American Cancer Society at 1-800-227-2345.