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  health > cancer > story pageAIDSAgingAlternative MedicineCancerChildrenDiet & FitnessMenWomen

New pill may make colonoscopy prep easier


October 21, 1999
Web posted at: 3:19 p.m. EDT (1919 GMT)

From Medical Correspondent Dr. Steve Salvatore

(CNN) -- It is essential for doctors to get a good look at the inside of the colon to check for cancer, but many people avoid screening because they fear the preparation required for a colonoscopy. But this preparation could become easier in the future with the use of a new drug that may soon be available.

Colo-rectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States after lung cancer. Colonoscopy can lead to early detection and when caught early, more than 90 percent of people survive.

"The purpose of colonoscopy is to see the inside of the large intestine, and in order to do that, you have to get rid of all the waste material that is normally present in the colon so that you can see the lining of the whole large intestine," said Dr. Joel Bauer.

But the liquids used today to prepare the bowel can be tough on patients.

"It requires that they not eat solid food for 18 to 24 hours, and also to drink a gallon of liquid -- no less one that tastes bitter and sour -- it is not pleasant at all," said Bauer.

Carmen Rosario, 60, has had multiple colonoscopies. She said the preparations were unbearable.

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  • "Oh my god, that was the most worst part of the whole test. I could not deal. I have been praying that they would make something else because that's worse than the test itself," Rosario said.

    Rosario's prayers may have been answered. A new drug called diacol, a compressed salt tablet, has been clinically tested on 800 patients and has proved to be as safe, effective and have less side effects than nu-lytley, a standard laxative.

    Patients preferred taking the pills over liquid by nearly 10 to 1. The clinical trial was sponsored by Inkine Pharmaceutical Company, makers of diacol.

    The tablets produced statistically less nausea, less vomiting and bloating, according to Dr. Leonard Jacob, CEO of Inkine Pharmaceutical.

    With diacol the patient just takes 8 ounces of any clear fluid along with the pills the evening prior to the test and the morning of the test.

    Any clear fluid means drinks like ginger ale or water, whatever the patient prefers. Patient preference is extremely important because if the preparation is inadequate, doctors have to reschedule the procedure..

    "Because its such an unpleasant experience, the preparation, they may choose not to do it, and they may delay a year, which is a very dangerous sort of thing," Jacob said.

    Diacol makers are expected to submit a new drug application to the Food and Drug Administration later this year. It is not yet know if or when the drug will be approved, but if it is made available in the future it is hoped more people will undergo colonoscopy to catch colon cancer early.

    Colorectal cancer: Find it before it finds you
    Why men don't visit the doctor ... and why they should
    Study shows simple colon cancer test to be lifesaver
    Genetic discovery may lead to early colon cancer detection

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    Inkine Pharmaceutical Company
    American Cancer Society
    National Cancer Institute
    Cancer Treatment Research Foundation
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