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FOX 11: Dr. Zuri Murrell Discusses New Recommendations for Colon Cancer Screening

Cedars-Sinai colorectal surgeon Zuri Murrell, MD, recently appeared on FOX 11 morning show Good Day L.A. to discuss new guidelines from a panel of national experts recommending that Americans get their first colonoscopy at age 45, rather than age 50. A colonoscopy is a screening to detect colorectal cancer.

During this routine outpatient procedure, a physician inserts a flexible scope with a fiberoptic camera into the rectum of a sedated patient to examine the colon.

"With colorectal cancer, all of it starts as a polyp," Murrell told Good Day L.A. host Michaela Pereira. "You take the polyp out while you're doing the colonoscopy, thus preventing colorectal cancer."

Murrell said he hopes the new guidance will remove cost barriers to early testing by encouraging health insurers to cover the cost of the procedure starting at age 45. Colorectal cancer is the third most deadly cancer in the U.S., and African Americans have the country's highest rate of colorectal cancer death.

Because of his family health history, Murrell had his first colonoscopy at age 42. He said the 24 hours of fasting and drinking liquids to clear the colon beforehand is a minor inconvenience, and the procedure itself causes no discomfort.

"A polyp was found in me that would have been a cancer if I would have waited till 50 years old," he told Pereira, adding that his children, ages 12 and 14, also will be screened early.

"If you don't do it for yourself, do it for your family," Murrell urged viewers. "After you have your first colonoscopy, you'll really understand that it is not that big a deal."

Click here to watch the complete interview on FOX 11.