Doctors offer free colon screenings for jobless

March 3, 2010 8:14:17 AM PST
The Colon Health Center in Newark, Delaware, is offering 50 unemployed or low income people a chance for a lifesaving screening.

It is working in conjunction with Mid-Atlantic GI Consultants and the Colon Cancer Alliance to offer the free screenings for qualifying people during March, which is Colon Cancer Awareness Month.

The screenings will be an "integrated virtual colonoscopy," which means that if polyps are found, they can be removed at the same facility, without patients going through a second preparation day.

To get information, or apply for the free screenings, go to

Dr. Mark Baumel of the Colon Health Center says he wants to make more people aware of the need for colonoscopies, and of the virtual colonoscopy. That procedure uses x-ray power to do a non-invasive, no-sedative examination of the colon. The machine delivers about a third the radiation of a traditional CT scan.

President Obama underwent a virtual colonoscopy during his annual check-up last weekend. The president chose the option to avoid the transfer of power which would be required if he had undergone the more extensive anesthesia required for a traditional colonoscopy.

Some doctors criticized the president for not undergoing the more invasive test, but Dr. Baumel says, "Virtual colonoscopy is just as good for detecting polyps."

He says the CT test also breaks through the stigma attached to the traditional test.

Screening rates for colon cancer have remained steady in recent years. Dr. Baumel says, "There's a whole group that doesn't like the idea of a 6-foot viewing tube inside their bodhy, and then there's another group that doesn't want the anesthesia."

"And then there's a third group," he notes, "which has other health problems that prevent them from undergoing the anesthesia."

"We really need to offer additional comfortable, accurate options for those people," says Dr. Baumel.