Star Wars Technology Can Add Years to Your Life

Fall 2001 CSANews Issue 40  |  Posted date : Apr 01, 2007.Back to list

When I was in medical school 20 years ago, I was taught that patients came to see their physician once they felt sick. Patients would go to the doctor with an array of symptoms and their doctor would use those clues to make the diagnosis.

We now know that most of the diseases that kill the largest percentage of our population take years to develop to the point at which they cause symptoms. Cardiovascular disease, for example, takes 20 to 30 years to become symptomatic, as does osteoporosis. Diabetes takes 10 years to show symptoms and colorectal cancer takes 10 to 15 years before symptoms usually appear.

How times have changed. With the rapid advances in medical technology, we are now able to detect diseases in patients years before they have actual symptoms.

At HealthScreen America, we have a GE Medical high-speed helical CT scanner that can literally see inside the heart and tell whether an individual does or doesn't have coronary artery disease and predict an individual's risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke over the next 10 years. This is very important information for an individual to have about his or her personal health because not only can we find diseases earlier, we now have treatments that can dramatically improve the outcomes of these diseases when they are detected early.

This same high-speed CT scanner is 600 per cent better than a chest x-ray at finding lung cancer in stage 1, when it is most treatable. If one waits until the lung cancer is detected by chest x-ray or symptoms, the chances of surviving five years is 14 per cent. Through regular screenings for lung cancer in patients at risk, this amazing technology raises the five-year survival rate for lung cancer to approximately 80 per cent. In other words, it can detect cancer the size of a grain of rice, instead of the size of a quarter (at which point it is often too late for successful treatment).

Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths, second only to lung cancer. One in 17 of us will get this disease, 55 thousand Americans will die this year from this horrible disease, and the real shame is that for the most part, it is a preventable disease if one gets colonoscopies on a regular basis. The standard recommendation is to start getting colonoscopies at the age of 50 unless there are additional risk factors such as a family history of colon cancer or familial polyposis.

Seventy per cent of the people who should be getting colonoscopies don't get them and part of the problem is that getting a standard optical colonoscopy is, for many, an inconvenient, uncomfortable and embarrassing process. There's the awful-tasting gallon of prep, the need for an IV, sedation and a ride home. It carries some risk of perforation of the colon, a small anaesthetic risk and, for some, it is just plain embarrassing.

HealthScreen America now has the new FDA-cleared "virtual colonoscopy" or CT colon scan that makes getting screened for colon cancer faster, simpler, more convenient and the entire exam takes less than 25 minutes. There's no need for an IV, nor sedation and, in fact, many people stop in and have their "virtual colonoscopy" on their way to work in the morning.

All of our radiology exams are interpreted by board-certified radiologists whose fees are included in our low prices, and every client receives a comprehensive 26-page personal health report of their results along with a CD-ROM computer disk of their radiology exams. All screening results are kept confidential and only you are given the results.

HealthScreen America strongly believes that people have the right to know if they have a potentially fatal disease. Our screenings put the consumers in the driver's seat because, after all, it's their bodies, their future and their life.