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December 2008 Mayo Clinic Health Letter Highlights: Colorectal Screenings, Lighting Tips for Low Vision and Generic Medications
Date:12/9/2008

colon -- about four feet -- is examined. During a colonoscopy, a flexible, slender tube equipped with a tiny camera, is used to look for polyps. The doctor can remove precancerous polyps during the exam. If needed, tissue samples (biopsies) can be taken to check for cancer. The test takes 15 to 30 minutes, requires colon cleansing, and may involve the use of a mild sedative for comfort. Generally, the test is recommended every 10 years.

Eventually, colorectal cancer can cause symptoms such as rectal bleeding or blood in the stool, persistent abdominal discomfort, unexplained loss of weight or appetite, or bowel habit changes such as persistent diarrhea or constipation. But the signs and symptoms often don't show up until the disease is advanced, when it's more difficult to treat. Because many avoid screening, only one-third of all colorectal cancers are diagnosed in the early stages.

Talk to a care provider about screening options, including colonoscopy and any concerns you might have about bowel preparation or discomfort. Men and women at average risk of developing colon cancer should be screened starting at age 50. It's not hard to imagine that the death rate due to colon cancer would drop substantially if all people eligible for screening had a colonoscopy.

Lighting Tips for Low Vision

ROCHESTER, Minn. -- Eyesight can fade over time because of aging or an eye disease. The December issue of Mayo Clinic Health Letter offers tips to help compensate for low vision:

Around the house:

  • Reduce differences in brightness -- Equalize indoor and outdoor light sources by leaving some house lights on during bright sunny days.
  • Reduce glare -- Cover shiny surfaces, such as a polished table, with a cloth. Dark-colored place mats can help at mealtime. Opt for furnishings with a flat or matte finish.

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SOURCE Mayo Clinic
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