Colonoscopies Save Lives

Colon Cancer
This column was written by CBS News Early Show co-anchor Harry Smith.

We're doing a series of reports on the "CBS Evening News" and "The Early Show" this week on colon cancer. We're led in this effort by Katie Couric, whose young husband died of the disease in 1998.

Katie famously went on television years later to have a colonoscopy on live TV. What's happened since then is quite remarkable: It's called the "Couric Effect." Colonoscopies have jumped 20 percent, and no doubt that will translate into lives saved.

Like so many other cancers, early detection makes a huge difference in treatment. Quite simply, if you wait for symptoms, you are waiting for trouble.

Cancer doctors say everyone over 50 should have a colonoscopy, and those with family histories of the disease should be screened earlier. When I went to get mine, I asked the doctor, "This is a good idea, right?" He said: "You know, you can die from a lot of things. But the last thing you want to die from is ignorance."

Harry's daily commentary can be heard on many CBS Radio News affiliates across the country.