PREVENTATIVE MEASURES: Colorectal Cancer is an easily preventable disease that affects the large intestine in either the colon or the rectum. As the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States and the third most common cancer in men and women, this is an important topic to understand and discuss with your provider and your loved ones. The National Cancer Institute (NCS) estimated that in 2017 over 135,000 people in the U.S. would be diagnosed with colorectal cancer and over 50,000 would die as a result of that cancer.
Clinical trials are ongoing to find effective prevention measures for colorectal cancer; however, the most definitive way to prevent colorectal cancer is to receive regular screenings. You may receive these screenings at Pondera Medical Center, Marias Medical Center, and Liberty Medical Center with PMC’s very experienced and professional, Dr. Jay Taylor. Dr. Taylor has 15 years of experience performing these procedures with your safety, comfort, and test accuracy in mind.
Should I be screened?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends people receive regular screening, beginning at age 50, as the key to preventing colorectal cancer, even if you do not experience symptoms. If you have other risk factors you should talk to your healthcare provider to see when you should begin your screenings. The risk factors that cause concern include: blood in your stool, unexplained weight loss, weakness, or fatigue, changes in bowel habits, and/or persistent abdominal pain. You should see your doctor immediately if you are exhibiting these symptoms. Other increased risk factors include: if you have a history of colorectal polyps or colorectal cancer in your family, you have inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn’s disease, or ulcerative colitis, or you have a genetic syndrome such as familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) or hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer. Remember, polyps can be present in the colon for years before invasive cancer develops and you probably wouldn’t feel or realize it, as they do not always cause symptoms. Almost all colorectal cancers begin as precancerous polyps (abnormal growths) in the colon or rectum. A colorectal cancer screening can find precancerous polyps so they can be removed before they turn into cancer.
What are the odds I’d have a problem?
About one in three men and one and four women will have a polyp found during a screening procedure. It is important to remove the benign polyps before they have a chance to become cancerous. According to the NCS, if colorectal cancer is found and caught early (in the localized stage) your chance of survival is much higher (the 5-year relative survival rate is nearly 90%). However, if it’s not found early the NCS statistics show the 5-year survival rate of colorectal cancer is about 65%.
With regular screening you can find polyps and colorectal cancer early, which increases treatment effectiveness, helps lead to a cure, and most importantly increases your chances of survival.
How do I find out if I have Colorectal Cancer?
The screenings available at Pondera Medical Center include: outpatient procedures such as the flexible sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy, or the take home kit called the iFOB (Immunological fecal occult blood) test that patients return back to the clinic lab. Talk to your healthcare provider about which screening is right for you and how often you should be screened.
What to Expect:
The colonoscopy procedure itself takes only 30 to 45 minutes and after a short recovery, you return to the comforts of your own home. Depending on the type of screenings you are receiving and your reaction to the mild sedative, plan for at least a 2-3 hour visit. You should also plan to spend a day at home to prep for the procedure and a day at home after the procedure to fully wake up from the sedative. Talk to your healthcare provider about questions you may have regarding the preparation for the procedure and what to expect during and after the procedure.
How do I pay for a colonoscopy?
Colorectal cancer screening tests may be covered by your health insurance policy without a deductible or co-pay. Check with your insurance policy because some health insurance plans will not cover procedures if they become “diagnostic,” meaning a polyp or cancer was found and/or treated. Where feasible, CDC’s Colorectal Cancer Control Program grantees provide free or low-cost screenings to eligible men and women. To find out more visit www.cdc.gov/cancer/crccp/contact.htm.
Pondera Medical Center is offering upper and lower endoscopy procedures on Wednesday mornings. Dr. Taylor also visits Chester’s Liberty Medical Center and Shelby’s Marias Medical Center to perform this procedure. Please call your healthcare provider to schedule your preventative screening appointment or call Pondera Medical Center Clinic to make your appointment in Conrad at 406-271-3231.