By Dr. Matthew Riffle
Watch Jeff Shawan (video above) get a colonoscopy for you!…..
Colorectal cancer is the 2nd most common cause of cancer death in the United States. The lifetime risk for developing colon cancer is 1 in 20 (5%)
In addition to age, RISK FACTORS include various hereditary cancer syndromes, inflammatory bowel disease (ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease), central obesity and the metabolic syndrome.
The incidence of colon cancer has been decreasing over the past 20 years as result of better screening efforts. Screening not only allows for early diagnosis of colon cancer when it has a much better cure rate, it also allows for precancerous polyps being found and removed. Polyps are small growths in the colon that can develop into colon cancer.
Screening for colorectal carcinoma is best accomplished by colonoscopy. Colonoscopy is most beneficial when done after adequate prep (cleansing of the colon). After satisfactory prep, the patient comes to the outpatient department and, with the aid of short acting monitored anesthesia, undergoes the procedure. Advantages of colonoscopy over other screening options include the fact that the entire colon is examined and while being examined, if a polyp is found, it may be easily removed.
All Americans over the age of 50 should have a screening colonoscopy every 10 years assuming they are of average risk and are having no symptoms. Patients with increased risk factors or with symptoms of colon cancer (bleeding, abdominal pain, change in bowel habits, weight loss, etc) should have colonoscopy either sooner or more frequently.
Not only does colon cancer screening save lives, it is cost effective. Studies have shown that above screening recommendations are cost effective. It is much less expensive to remove a polyp during screening than to treat advanced colon cancer!
Unfortunately, due to lack of public and healthcare professional awareness, financial barriers and inadequate health insurance coverage and/or benefits, only about half of the people eligible for screening get the tests they should.
For further information, discuss colon cancer screening with your healthcare professional.