Of the 150 or so patients participating in the D.C. Screen for Life program, 45 -- or almost 1 in 3 -- was diagnosed with precancerous polyps which, down the road, can sometimes lead to colon cancer.
The good news, says Dr. Duane Smith of Howard University Hospital, is that by early screening, these polyps can be removed before they turn into something more serious.
"This is an area where we can actually prevent more than 95 percent of people from developing this cancer if we can get people to come in early and be screened before they develop symptoms," Smith says.
The doctors running the program at Howard and Georgetown University Hospital say they do not know why D.C.'s uninsured were found with higher rates of precancerous polyps.
To qualify for the free colonoscopy, you must live in the District, be uninsured or under-insured and between the ages of 50 and 64.