A new technology may someday become an alternative to colonoscopy to detect colon cancer.
It's a pill that patients swallow to give doctors an internal view they've never gotten before.
That’s what Jill Flack did, and while she plugged away at her work computer, Flack simultaneously underwent necessary cancer screening.
“Once I heard about it I jumped on it. I said that's perfect for me. I am going to be able to go back to work. I don't have to take the whole day off because I was sedated,” said Flack.
Flack is one of the first patients in the country to undergo the PillCam colonoscopy. Once swallowed, the pill cam travels the length of the gastrointestinal tract and records images along the way.
For a traditional colonoscopy, the procedure includes a day off from work, anesthesia, and the insertion of the colonoscope into the body.
With the new technology all a patient has to do is swallow a PillCam to get the same result.
"I was able to see things on the capsule that I could not see in this particular patient with a scope," said Dr. Mark Molos of Westglen Gastrointestinal Consultants.
Now that the clinical trials are over, Molos plans to use the PillCam colonoscopy as a standard procedure with his patients.
"Out of the people who really need it, only about 10 percent get it done. And so what we are hoping is that a test like this that is easy to do and doesn't require a day off work, anesthesia. Those sorts of obstacles will really increase the percentage of people who allow it to get done," said Molos.
Even though the cost is less than a traditional colonoscopy, you should check with your insurance company to see if it’s covered.
Capsule Endoscopy is currently available in the Pacific Northwest.
One downside to the PillCam colonoscopy is that it is solely diagnostic. If a doctor spots a polyp during a traditional colonoscopy, it could be removed during the procedure. But, not with the PillCam, a traditional colonoscopy might be required.