Colonoscopy Is Essential for Colon Cancer Prevention
Colon cancer prevention is the number one reason to have a colonoscopy. Los Angeles GI doctor Peyton Berookim, MD, specializes in preventive screening for colorectal cancer using the most advanced diagnostic equipment and thorough technique. Multiple large-scale studies have demonstrated that gastroenterologists correctly identify more polyps (adenomas) during colonoscopy than other physicians, reducing patients’ risk for colon cancer. Dr. Berookim is a board certified gastroenterologist whose rate of adenoma detection is even higher than the national average among GI specialists.
How Common Is Colorectal Cancer?
According to Cancer.gov, “1 in 21 men and women will be diagnosed with cancer of the colon or rectum during their lifetime”. The American Cancer Society estimates that more than 142,000 new patients will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer in 2013. They also estimate that more than 50,000 patients die from this disease each year. Most of these deaths could be prevented with early and accurate colonoscopy cancer screening.
The five year survival rate for colon cancer that is caught early (when it is still confined to tissue in the colon) is over 90 percent. If the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes, the survival rate drops to 70%. If it has metastasized throughout the body, the five year survival rate is less than 13 percent. Tragically, only 40 percent of patients have their cancer diagnosed before it starts to spread. One out of five patients already has metastatic colon cancer when they are diagnosed.
What Are the Risk Factors for Colorectal Cancer?
- The most common risk factor is age. After age 50, this cancer becomes much more common. In fact, nine out of ten patients who have colon cancer are at least 50 years old.
- Certain ethnic groups such as African Americans have a higher risk than the rest of the population (they should begin screening at age 45).
- Patients with inflammatory bowel disorders, diabetes, obesity, and certain other chronic conditions are also at higher than average risk.
- Some risk factors are genetic. Individuals with a family history of colon cancer or related bowel disorders should be screened early.
- Lifestyle factors such as smoking, heavy drinking and lack of exercise increase the chances of developing colon cancer.
What Are the Symptoms of Colon Cancer?
Early stages of colon cancer often give no warning signs. However, some patients may notice symptoms such as:
- Losing weight without trying
- Unexplained changes in bowel movement habits
- Narrow or bloody stool
- Rectal bleeding
By the time symptoms occur, patients may need to have colorectal surgery to eliminate the cancerous tissue. This procedure is more involved than a simple colonoscopy. That’s why it is very important to schedule a colonoscopy long before any symptoms appear.
Does Colonoscopy Actually Prevent Colon Cancer?
A colonoscopy is not just a screening tool. It is performed to check for cancerous lesions and to either take biopsies or remove abnormal tissue. Dr. Berookim uses the colonoscope equipment to carefully remove small growths called adenomas (polyps). These are areas of tissue that may eventually develop into cancer as the abnormal cells continue to change and multiply over the years. Most polyps are not cancerous, so finding them does not mean you have cancer. However, removing them does give you extra assurance that you will remain safe and healthy year after year.
Many patients feel apprehensive about getting a colonoscopy. Los Angeles GI doctor Peyton Berookim and his experienced staff are dedicated to making sure you feel completely comfortable during your procedure. Call 310.271.1122 to schedule a consultation and get screened to avoid colon cancer.