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C. Early Detection of One of the Most Common Forms of Cancer

Narrator: This is Science Today. Colorectal cancer strikes about 130 thousand Americans each year - making it one of the most common forms of cancer in the United States. And even though it's preventable, about half of colon cancer patients eventually die from the disease - partly because it often isn't detected until the later stages. Dr. Charles Theuer, a professor of surgery at the University of California, Irvine says polyps, which can be precursors to cancer, can be easily removed during a colonoscopy.

Theuer: Getting rid of polyps during the procedure of colonoscopy for instance is very painless and easy. So we get rid of anything we see, knowing that only one in ten will eventually become a cancer.

Narrator: The good news, Theuer says, is if no abnormalities are detected, you can wait ten years before your next screening.

Theuer: Even if you have a small polyp, we don't recommend another one for five years. So it's not something that you have to do every year or every month. So if you engage in the program and get going, it's not a huge intrusion in your life.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.