Colon cancer: A preventable illness

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Updated: 3/07/2014 11:23 am

RENO, Nev. (KRNV and MyNews4) -- According to the American Cancer Society colon cancer is the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States. The illness can strike men or women and is expected to be the cause of more than 50,000 deaths this year. Routine testing, such as a colonoscopy can prevent many cases of colon cancer. However, according to the American Cancer Society, only about 4 out of 10 people are diagnosed at an early stage which is when treatment is most successful.

Rosa Pavia had her first colonoscopy on Thursday. Pavia is over the age of 50, therefore she's at the age doctors recommend getting the procedure done. However, Pavia says she has more motivation that the doctor's orders. Pavia says she considers herself proactive with her health. She says after witnessing her sister battle breast cancer she wants to take every precautionary measure possible.

"You see the ones who you love the most having all of this pain, they don't know what's going to happen next, and if you have a chance to prevent and you can find out what's going to be next it's better to find out in an early stage," Pavia says.

The procedure doesn't have the best reputation, it's about your bowel movements and the organs that deal with them, but Pavia and her doctor, Dr. Dennis Yamamoto beg to differ. To show viewers first hand how easy colonoscopys can be, he invited a News 4 crew into Pavia's procedure.

During a colonoscopy doctors check for polyps which are very small chunks of tissue and they can be cancerous.

"Cancer kills people, by definition. So finding this early and preventing it you've actually saved a life," Dr. Yamamoto says.

Polyps are removed quick and painlessly like this during the colonoscopy.

Dr. Yamamoto has been practicing for 33 years and says he's watched as technology has completely changed the procedure, making it safer and less invasive.

"It's much more superior than what we did thirty years ago," Dr. Yamamoto says.

When Dr. Yamamoto started a colonoscopy procedures back in the late 1978 he says it would take about two and half hours to complete the procedure. Pavia's colonoscopy took 20 minutes.

"It's better to know what's going on," Pavia says.

Dr. Yamamoto encourages patrons to seek advice from their physician if they are interested in getting a colon cancer screening. For more information on colon cancer from the American Cancer Society click here.

March is national colon cancer awareness month.

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