In recognition of National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, the physicians and providers at HSHS Medical Group want to remind you that of the cancers affecting both men and women, colorectal cancer is the second-leading cancer killer in the United States. Here at home, Illinois has among the highest rates of colorectal cancer in the United States—a range of 42.3 to 49.4 per 100,000 individuals, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)1. The statistics can be sobering, but they don’t have to be—a screening is fast (about 30 minutes), has minimal discomfort, and can save your life.
According to Sanjay Bangarulingam, MD, a gastroenterologist at HSHS Medical Group Gastroenterology in Springfield, IL, “Colorectal cancer is a type of cancer that starts in the colon (large intestine). It may start as a small growth—called a polyp. Over time, it can actually encircle the lumen, or the inside of the large intestine, and will cause either complete blockage of the intestine or bleeding problems. It can eventually spread to other parts of the body and cause cancer.”
Fortunately, a colonoscopy is available, and is considered the gold standard of colorectal cancer screening methods for its ability to view the entire colon and both detect and remove polyps during the same procedure2. During a colonoscopy, the doctor uses a longer, thin, flexible, lighted tube (called a colonoscope, or scope) to check for polyps or cancer inside the rectum and the entire colon. During the test, the doctor can find and remove most polyps and some cancers. A colonoscopy also is used as a follow-up test if anything unusual is found during other screening tests3. Most people will not feel pain during a colonoscopy, though some may experience a bit of discomfort. Medication will be given to you to make you sleep through a colonoscopy, so you don’t feel anything4 during the procedure.
Precancerous polyps and early-stage colorectal cancer don’t always cause symptoms, especially at first. This means that someone could have polyps or colorectal cancer and not know it. That’s why having a screening test is so important. The bottom line: If you’re 50 or older (45 if you’re African-American) and/or have a family history of colorectal cancer, talk with your doctor about getting screened.
Schedule Your Colonoscopy Today
With March being National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, HSHS Medical Group urges you to schedule your colonoscopy. Screening tests like colonoscopies can catch colorectal cancer early, making it easier to treat. Thanks to timely screenings, there has been a 30% decrease in colorectal cancer over the last 10 years. Early detection is your best protection! Talk to your family doctor to schedule a colonoscopy. If you need a family doctor, call 844.520.8897 to speak to a patient advocate.