Swedish Uses Colon Cancer Live Stream to Fight Disease

Physicians will respond on camera to questions during live streamed colonoscopy on March 28

Colorectal cancer doesn't broadcast its presence until it's too late. Swedish Health Services hopes to change that by getting the word out about safe and effective prevention options.

On Wednesday, March 28, 2012 from 9 AM to 12 PM (PDT), Swedish physicians and staff will host its first-ever online chat and video stream of a colonoscopy procedure. The stream will be made available online at swedish.org/colonlive.

In the United States today, colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths for both men and women. It is estimated that 51,000 people will die of the disease this year and 143,000 new cases will be diagnosed.

The American Cancer Society recommends that, upon turning age 50, everyone should get a colonoscopy to prevent colon and rectal cancers. The test is designed to find both early cancer and polyps (growths in your large intestine).

"Right now, only about 60 percent of patients get screened, even though the effectiveness in reducing deaths has been proven," said Dr. Raman Menon, a colon and rectal surgeon at Swedish. "Regular testing is a powerful weapon for preventing the onset of the disease. Removing polyps in the colon keeps the cancer from ever evolving into anything dangerous. The disease is easily treatable if found at an early stage."

"Education is our best, most cost-effective weapon against colorectal cancer," said Dr. Nicholas Procaccini, a gastroenterologist at Swedish. "Screening helps people stay well and it saves lives."

In nine of 10 patients who found their cancers early, their chance for survival in five years is high. Very often these people live a normal life span. If people neglect screening, the cancer can grow and spread without being noticed.

A colonoscopy takes about 30 minutes and is not painful. It is an internal examination of the colon, or large intestine, and rectum. It is done using an instrument called a colonoscope, which has a very small camera attached to a flexible tube that the examiner uses to scope the area. The procedure reviews the entire length of a colon.

As part of Colon Cancer Awareness Month, Drs. Menon and Procaccini will host an online chat and live stream featuring two colonoscopy procedures, one of a male and the other of a female patient. The live stream will be focused around the importance of undergoing routine colonoscopies after age 50 with a focus on advances in colonoscopy procedures.

During the live stream the public will have the chance to communicate with the physicians who performed the procedures and ask questions. The physicians will respond live on camera throughout the program. The dialogue will be focused around the importance of early detection in preventing and treating colon and rectal health issues. Anyone interested may also join the conversation via Twitter by using the hashtag #ColonLive.

Swedish is committed to identifying new ways of communicating to the community to better inform the public and provide important information about relevant health issues. Recently, Dr. Rod Kratz, a colon and rectal surgeon at Swedish, shared his experiences preparing for his first colonoscopy on YouTube. Dr. Kratz underwent his first at age 40 due to potential family history of colon and rectal health issues. His video can be found online here: youtube.com/watch?v=BVocXp-CYHU.