Cancer screenings are a given in this day and age. In social company, it’s not unheard of to discuss mammograms and breast exams, or to talk about a trip to the dermatologist for a skin exam, but the conversation will rarely, if ever, veer toward colonoscopies.
At Precision Research Institute in San Diego, we understand that colorectal cancer makes for an uncomfortable subject of discussion, but we cannot emphasize enough the importance of the colonoscopy screening.
Here are some statistics that might help you understand why we’re so emphatic about it:
― Excluding skin cancers, colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in men and women in the United States.
― 150,000 men and women are diagnosed with colorectal cancer every year.
― Colorectal is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths for men and women in the United States.
― 50,000 people will die each year of colorectal cancer.
Where and how colon cancer forms:
Your large intestine, or colon, is the last organ in your gastrointestinal system. It is a six-foot tube that extends up on the right side of your abdominal cavity, then turns left at your liver, bends down on the spleen at the left, and loops to the middle before passing through the rectum and out the anus.
The cells lining your colon constantly grow and die. A glitch in their growth messaging system can result in a mass of tissue called a polyp. You can’t feel polyps growing, and there won’t be any noticeable symptoms, but if left unchecked, a polyp may continue to grow abnormally until it becomes a cancerous mass. The mass can narrow or block the opening of the tube, or break through the wall of the colon to metastasize in other organs. Approximately 25% of 50-year-old adults develop polyps, and 5% of those polyps are cancerous.
Risks for colon cancer increase with:
― Advancing age (over 50)
― High fat, low fiber diet
― Family history of colon cancers
― Untreated polyps in the colon
― Chronic inflammatory diseases (such as Crohn’s)
― Tobacco and excessive alcohol use
― History of previous cancers (especially reproductive)
The U.S. Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends screening for colorectal cancer at regular intervals beginning at age 50 until age 75. Those with a history of previous cancers, chronic inflammatory diseases, or with prevalent family history should begin sooner.
What is a colonoscopy?
During a colonoscopy procedure, the doctor uses a tiny camera attached to a flexible device to visualize the inside of your colon. The procedure allows the doctor not only to see the polyps, but also to remove them or to take tissue samples.
Although the procedure is uncomfortable, it can actually be the difference between life and death. Here’s how:
― Because the doctor can use the colonoscopy screening tests to find and remove polyps before they turn into cancer, they can actually prevent colon cancer, not just catch it early.
― There’s a 92% chance of a 5+-year survival rate for stage 1 colon cancer (compared to 11% at stage 4), and an 87% of a 5+-year survival rate for stage 1 rectal cancer (compared to 12% at stage 4). Regular screenings dramatically increase the likelihood of catching these cancers in the early stages.
Colonoscopy study open for enrollment
Now that you understand the importance of regular colonoscopy screenings, it’s time to schedule yours.
For a procedure this important, you want to know it’s being done right. At Precision Research Center in San Diego, we run the Endoscopy Center, the region’s only freestanding state-of-the-art ambulatory surgery center completely dedicated to endoscopies and colonoscopies.
If you are interested in taking part in our current study for sedation in patients undergoing colonoscopy or endoscopy for diagnostic or therapeutic reasons, please give us a call to see if you qualify.
Our staff has been specially trained to provide patients with comfort, privacy, and quality care. And because our physicians specialize in endoscopies and colonoscopies, you can trust that you’re receiving the highest standard of medical care available.