COLON CANCER SCREENING AND PREVENTION


Colorectal cancer screening saves lives in two important ways:

1.     By finding and removing precancerous polyps before they become cancer

2.     By detecting the cancer early when it is most treatable

Both men and women should undergo testing for the disease beginning at age 50. People with a high risk for colorectal cancer and those with a family history should talk with their doctor about being screened at an earlier age. A study by leading cancer groups found that colorectal cancer deaths have declined nearly five percent (2002-2004), in part due to prevention through screening and the removal of precancerous polyps.

 

COLONOSCOPY

Colonoscopy allows for a complete evaluation of the colon and removal of potentially precancerous polyps (adenomas). It is the only colorectal cancer screening tool that is both diagnostic and therapeutic. If a polyp is found, the doctor can remove it immediately. The polyp is usually removed with small biopsy forceps or loop of wire (snare) that is advanced within a channel in the colonoscope. The polyp is then sent to the pathology lab for analysis.

A recent landmark trial published in the New England Journal of Medicine established a clear survival benefit to having precancerous (adenomatous) polyps removed at colonoscopy. Patients who had adenomas removed during colonoscopy had a 53% reduction in colorectal cancer mortality compared to the general population.

All colonoscopy procedures performed by our physicians are done with the most modern equipment. Our scopes have high definition video quality to ensure that the most subtle of polyps are detected and removed during the examination.

Preparation is important for the procedure, the laxative prep we use is safe and inexpensive, we will review this with you during your office consultation.

All colonoscopies we perform are painless. All patients can receive anesthesia under the care of one of the expert anesthesiologists we work with. Patients are asleep for the procedure, but the medication wears off quickly and there are no long-lasting effects or side effects.

Colonoscopy is essentially an outpatient procedure for nearly all patients, this means that it can be performed safely outside a hospital in an accredited facility. We perform colonoscopy at Diagnostic Endoscopy Center in Stamford, CT and the Endoscopy Center of Greenwich Hospital in Greenwich, CT.


CT COLONOGRAPHY (also referred to as virtual colonoscopy)

A small tube is placed in the rectum and air is pumped into the colon to inflate the bowel. Then a special CT scan is used to image the colon. Recent studies show that it is effective in identifying medium to large polyps, but is ineffective in identifying small polyps and it may also miss flat polyps. CT colonography may be best for low-risk patients who cannot undergo or who failed a conventional colonoscopy. The same bowel prep as conventional colonoscopy is required and it does not use sedation. 

PROS

  • Examines the entire colon
  • High detection rate for medium to large polyps
  • Low risk

CONS

  • Air distention of the bowel can be uncomfortable
  • Ineffective in detection of small polyps
  • Uses X-ray radiation
  • If polyps or other abnormalities are found, A COLONOSCOPY MUST BE PERFORMED
  • Is not covered by Medicare or most other insurers as an initial screening test

To learn more about colon cancer screening and prevention: http://www.screen4coloncancer.org