DEAR DR. DONOHUE: Will you talk about colon polyps? I had polyps removed during a colonoscopy. My doctor recommends another colonoscopy in three years. I have retired, and my insurer has declined to cover my colon because I had something removed from it. I will have to pay for the colonoscopy. When I was working, the insurance company insisted on colon procedures for preventive care. Please advise. — A.C.
ANSWER: Polyps are small growths sprouting from the lining of many organs. In the case of colon polyps, some of them turn into colon cancer. The problem is that a doctor looking at the polyp cannot tell if it has the cancer potential unless the polyp is removed and viewed with a microscope.
More than 150,000 new cases of colon cancer occur yearly in the United States, and every year there are more than 50,000 deaths from colon cancer. Colon cancer and colon cancer death can be eliminated by removing all suspicious polyps.
Guidelines urge everyone to have a first colonoscopy at age 50. If a polyp is discovered that measures more than twofifths of an inch, if the polyp has microscopic evidence of dangerous changes or if a person has three or more polyps, that individual is told to have a repeat colonoscopy in three years. Otherwise, if all is well, the next colonoscopy can be delayed for 10 years.
I don’t understand your insurer’s unwillingness to insure your colon, since the company is less likely to lose money on you because you have been conscientious in having the examination and its follow-up. Perhaps a telephone call to the company can get it to change its decision.
If the company won’t budge, I’d still have the scope exam, even if the money has to come out of your own pocket. The assurance that all is well is worth every penny.
The booklet on colon cancer explains this common condition in detail and its treatment. Readers can obtain a copy by writing: Dr. Donohue — No. 505W, Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853- 6475. Enclose a check or money order (no cash) for $4.75 U.S./$6 Canada with the recipient’s printed name and address. Please allow four weeks for delivery.
DEAR DR. DONOHUE: What is a man to do for excessive back hair? My husband is embarrassed to take our girls (7 and 9) to the town pool because of his hairy back, and he is very self-conscious on a beach as well.
I have offered to shave his back, but he’s worried that the hair will come back thicker. Any suggestions? — L.C.
ANSWER: Yes. Shave your husband’s back for him. The hair won’t grow back thicker. That’s a fable some unknown person started way back when. It’s not true.
DEAR DR. DONOHUE: I have been getting a monthly B-12 shot for 20 some years. I don’t know why. Are these shots necessary? — A.S.
ANSWER: They’re necessary for people with pernicious anemia. Those people can’t absorb the vitamin. Twenty-some years is too long to go without knowing the reason for your treatment. It’s time you asked your doctor why you’re getting the shots.
Readers may write Dr. Donohue or request an order form of available health newsletters at P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853- 6475.
©2009 North America Synd.