By Stephanie Stahl

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Colonoscopies are reducing colon cancer cases in the United States, and it’s saving lives.  3 On Your Side Health Reporter Stephanie Stahl is here with more on a new report.

The largest decrease is in Americans 65 and older.  Death rates are also dropping.

“Everything is back to normal,” said 51-year-old James Ricchiuti, who is relieved he can say that.  He had a colonoscopy, and doctors found two polyps that were removed.

“From what I’m told, one of the two polyps would have turned into cancer,” said James.

He had a routine colonoscopy after he turned 50, which is the recommended age to start colon cancer screening.

Now a new study from the American Cancer Society shows screening is paying off.  The number of colon cancer cases has dropped thirty percent in the last decade for those 50 years and older.

Dr. Greg Ginsberg is the Director of Endoscopic Services at Penn Medicine.

“Largely it is a preventable disease.  It’s preventable through detection of these precancerous lesions or polyps that can be removed at colonoscopy, that prevents them from going on to develop into invasive cancer,” said Dr. Ginsberg.

Research shows the number of adults having colonoscopies has tripled in recent years, causing the drop in colon cancer cases.  But still 40 percent of people who should be getting a colonoscopy don’t.

“It’s a lifesaving procedure,” said Dr. Ginsberg.

“It really isn’t a big deal.  Just, just go through it,” said James.

The American Cancer Society is launching a national initiative to try to get more people screened for colon cancer.  During the next four years, the goal is to get recommended screening rates up to 80 percent.

For more information on Colon Cancer Information, visit:

For more information on Penn Medicine Gastroenterology, visit:

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