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The Colonoscopy: A Historical Timeline

As we approach the end of this year’s Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, let’s take a closer look at something near and dear to our hearts: the colonoscopy. 

As the only screening test that detects and prevents cancer, the best test for finding precancerous polyps, and the only test recommended for people with risk factors such as personal history of polyps or cancer, the colonoscopy is truly a life-saving resource. Over 15 million colonoscopies are performed across the United States each year, reducing the widespread risk of colorectal cancer death by over 60%.

However, despite the colonoscopy’s widespread use and unequivocal standard of effectiveness, it is actually a fairly new methodology, one that took decades to be widely-known and well-established. While variations of the colonoscopy were first conceptualized throughout the 1960s, it wasn’t until the last few decades that the standards of quality which govern the colonoscopy as we know it came to be.

Follow along for a deep-dive into our favorite colorectal cancer screening test. 

1960s-70s: The Early Years

Up until the mid-1960s, the closest thing to a colonoscopy was an endoscopic procedure using a rigid sigmoidoscope. This device had very limited movement, reach, and was unable to actually remove polyps. 

In 1969, colleagues Dr. William Wolff and Dr. Hiromi Shinya of Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City invented the fiberoptic colonoscope, the first device to allow doctors to actually examine the entire length of the colon, thanks to its flexible, dynamic design.

Dr. Shinya also invented the polypectomy snare in 1969, a device which was able to physically remove colorectal polyps using a wire and electro-cauterizing mechanism. 

By 1973, the pair had performed over 5,000 colonoscopies, demonstrating the validity and safety of the procedure. 

1980s-90s: Increasing Awareness

In 1983, the Welch Allyn Corporation invented the first video endoscope, allowing doctors to see the procedure on-screen. Before, they were only able to observe the colon through a small eyepiece. 

Although the colonoscopy continued to develop, there was still a lack of general public accessibility and awareness towards the procedure. Many people opted for tests such as fecal occult blood testing and sigmoidoscopy. It wasn’t until 1985, when President Ronald Reagan underwent a life-saving colonoscopy, that the procedure began to garner national attention. 

In the mid-90s, the first screening recommendations were established in the United States. Adults over the age of 50 were suggested to receive regular colonoscopies. However, in a 1999 survey conducted by the CDC, only 40.3% of American adults over the age of 50 reported ever having a colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy.  

2000-Now: New Developments

In 2000, the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy (ASGE) published the first colonoscopy guidelines. This seminal work allowed the quality of a colonoscopy to be measured with a numeric value, the Adenoma Detection Rate (ADR) as well as evaluate measures such as the quality of bowel preparation, patient assessments, rate of complications, cecal intubation rate, and withdrawal time. Doctors were finally able to be pragmatically evaluated for their ability to perform a colonoscopy. 

The early 21st century saw a significant increase in colonoscopies. Self-reported colonoscopies across the United States increased from 20% in 2000 to 47% in 2008. This can be contributed to many factors: a variety of educational campaigns and visibility measures pushed by doctors, government, and public organizations; Medicare coverage of colonoscopy, beginning in 2001; even celebrity stunts such as the Today Show’s Katie Couric’s publicized colonoscopy.

From 2000 to 2015, colon cancer rates rose considerably across increasingly younger populations. For adults aged 40-44, colorectal cancer incidence increased by 28%, for those aged 45-49, colorectal cancer increased by 15%, and while colonoscopy rates increased 17% in those aged 50–54. 

Rising colorectal cancer rates have led to efforts such as the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force’s 2020 recommendation that all adults aged 45-75 should be regularly screened. This was an update from the 2016 guidelines that suggested adults without risk factors should begin screening at the age of 50.

What is the future of the colonoscopy?

The colonoscope of the present remains largely unchanged from that first created by Dr. Wolff and Shinya in 1969. While it has developed in mechanical quality, such as flexibility and control, and now features a light source, suction device, lens cleaning, and a camera, it doesn’t really vary in its fundamental use: to observe and remove colorectal polyps, acting as both a diagnostic and therapeutic instrument. Why is this the case? Likely because it is highly effective at what it does! 

With this in mind, the most important development concerning colonoscopies, arguably, is in the public sphere. While the mechanisms of the procedure itself will undoubtedly continue to evolve and innovate, it’s important to consider the future of public access and opinion towards the colonoscopy.

There is still a surprising amount of misconception surrounding the colonoscopy. A 2020 survey of several European countries found that only 45% of people understood that it can prevent colon cancer. In the United States (pre-pandemic), around 68.8% of adults were up-to-date with their colonoscopy. Many people remain uninformed, fearful, and resistant to receiving the  life-saving screening test. Other people are limited by financial means or geographic accessibility to the procedure. 

By working to increase public awareness around the value of the colonoscopy, we can continue to prevent and reduce colorectal cancer deaths around the world. By educating your friends and loved ones about the importance of colonoscopy, partaking in events such as #DressInBlueDay and National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, getting involved with organizations like the Colon Cancer Coalition, and getting screened, yourself, you can help promote widespread change. 

See new infographics created by the Digestive Health Physicians Association below. To read stories about people’s experiences with colonoscopies and colorectal cancer, click here. To see our favorite online resources for promoting awareness, click here. To learn more about what exactly colorectal cancer is, click here.

The colonoscopy a historical timelineColorectal screening tests

An Overview of Colorectal Cancer Screening Tests

March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, an important time to spread awareness and learn more about the risks associated with colorectal cancer.

Colorectal cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer and the second-leading cause of cancer deaths in the world. In the United States this year, an estimated 151,030 adults will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer and ​​an estimated 52,580 will die from the disease. 

Despite its significant rate of incidence, colorectal cancer is highly preventable through the use of screening tests. Gastroenterology Health Partners, in conjunction with the American Cancer Society and Digestive Health Partners Association, recommends that those with an average risk start screenings at age 45. 

Of the colorectal cancer screening tests that we offer, colonoscopy remains the gold-standard of effectiveness and is strongly suggested for anyone eligible. Observational studies have suggested that colonoscopy can reduce colorectal cancer occurrence by 40% and mortality rates by 60%. 

If you’re considering scheduling a screening test, talk to an experienced gastroenterologist. They can help you make the right decision for your needs. 

Keep reading to learn about six commonly-offered colorectal cancer screening tests.

6 Common Colorectal Cancer Screening Tests

1. Colonoscopy

As mentioned above, the colonoscopy is the best diagnostic tool available. This out-patient procedure involves the use of a thin, flexible tube with a camera to exam the lining of the colon (large intestine) for abnormalities such as polyps. Some polyps can be removed with a scope during the procedure. Your doctor may also take tissue samples for analysis as well.

While the colonoscopy does require prep and recovery time, it is a fast, virtually risk-free procedure. Afterwards, your doctor will discuss your results with you and recommend whether you should be screened in 1, 5, or 10 years. To learn more about the colonoscopy, how it works, how to prepare, and more, read here

2. Fecal immunochemical test (FIT)

Often considered the second choice after a colonoscopy, the fecal immunochemical test (FIT) offers a non-invasive method for identifying colorectal cancer. The test, often performed at home, tests for hidden (occult) blood in the stool. This unnoticeable blood is often an early-sign of colorectal cancer. 

If you test positive for hidden blood during a FIT test, your doctor will want to perform another test, most likely a colonoscopy. FIT, unlike colonoscopy, is unable to actually identify or remove polyps and abnormal tissue. Therefore, the FIT is not really a viable “preventative” test and has a much lower accuracy rate. 

3. CT Colonography

The CT Colonography is also known as a “virtual colonoscopy.” This test uses a CT scan (a form of x-ray technology) to exam the colon for polyps. A small scope is inserted slightly into the colon to inflate it with air. Then, pictures are taken of the entire colon. The CT Colonography is highly effective, and, unlike a colonoscopy, it doesn’t require sedation. However, unlike a colonoscopy, this exam doesn’t actually remove precancerous polyps, it only can identify them.

4. Cologuard

Cologuard is another non-invasive, at-home colon screening test. Much like the FIT test, it looks at stool DNA samples. While Cologuard is generally more effective than FIT, it still doesn’t compare to the effectiveness of the colonoscopy–while colonoscopy is known to identify over 70% of precancerous polyps, Cologuard only identifies around 42%.

5. Flexible Sigmoidoscopy

A flexible sigmoidoscopy is a comparable procedure to the colonoscopy. It is an exam of the lower part of the colon using a small, flexible, lighted tube. The tube, called a flexible sigmoidoscope, has a camera which allows the doctor to view the inside of the rectum and the sigmoid colon—about the last two feet of the large intestine. Unlike a colonoscopy, this procedure does not allow the doctor to see the entire colon; any cancers or polyps far in the colon cannot be detected. 

6. Capsule Endoscopy

A capsule endoscopy is a procedure that examines the lining of the middle part of the small intestine, the duodenum, jejunum and ileum. This procedure is necessary because a standard endoscope or colonoscope cannot reach this part of the bowel. Capsule endoscopy is often used to search for causes of bleeding as well as detect polyps, tumors, ulcers, and IBD.

During this procedure, the patient will swallow a tiny pill containing a video camera, light source, and battery. The camera will take 2-3 pictures per second for up to 12 hours, traveling through the GI tract. The photos are saved automatically to a recording device and strung into a video. 

While capsule endoscopy is effective for detecting and documenting significant lesions attributed to conditions such as IBD, tumors, and ulcers, it is significantly less effective as a colon screening test compared to colonoscopy. 

 When it comes to colon cancer screenings, the experienced medical team at Gastroenterology Health Partners is here to serve you. To learn more about our services or to schedule an appointment at one of our offices in Southern Indiana or Kentucky, contact a Gastroenterology Health Partners location near you.

2022 Bottoms Up Bash

Gastro Health Partners is proud to sponsor the 11th Annual Bottoms Up Bash! This exceptional event, put on by the Colon Cancer Prevention Project, is a celebration of progress in the fight against colon cancer and an opportunity to raise crucial funds for ending preventable colon cancer death and suffering in Southern Indiana and Kentucky.

What is the Colon Cancer Prevention Project?

Here’s some more information about the CCPP’s mission and work:

“The Colon Cancer Prevention Project founded in 2003 by Dr. Whitney Jones, a Louisville gastroenterologist with a passion for preventing colon cancer. Dr. Jones began the organization after diagnosing several patients with colon cancer within one week. Sick and tired of diagnosing patients with cancer that could have been prevented, he set out to make a change.

The Project began as a small grassroots organization with a large mission of eliminating preventable colon cancer death and suffering. It quickly grew to include work across Kentucky, Indiana, and the country. Before the Project, only 1 in 3 Kentuckians were getting life-saving colon cancer screenings. Now, about 2 in 3 Kentuckians are getting screened, and the incidence rate is down more than 25 percent. Kentucky is now nationally renowned for its work, which includes a state-wide screening program for low-income, uninsured people.

We are committed to educating our communities younger about the power they have to prevent colon cancer. The United States Preventative Services Task Force now recommends average-risk people begin screening at age 45 and those with a family history should screen at 40 or younger. With the help of partners across the state and WKYT, the Project is launching first-of-its-kind digital outreach campaigns to educate & empower our communities to get screened by reaching them on their phones and devices.

We continue to work to make screening more accessible to those who are uninsured and underinsured in our community by promoting free screening resources available through Kentucky Cancer LinkKentucky Cancer Program, and the Kentucky Colon Cancer Screening and Prevention Program.

The Bash is Back!

The 2022 Bottoms Up Bash will feature dinner, drinks, dancing, live music by the Crashers, and a silent auction. The event is on March 4, or Dress in Blue Day, and guests are encouraged to dress in their brightest blue to help kick off Colon Cancer Awareness Month. (Note: Event is ages 21+).

“All funds raised will go towards ending colon cancer death and suffering in Kentucky and Southern Indiana. We can’t wait to see you there!” 

Learn more about this great event and buy tickets here: https://coloncancerpreventionproject.org/events/bottoms-up-bash-2021/

2022 Bottoms Up Bash is Sponsored by GHP

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gastroenterology Health Partners (GHP) is the largest independent Gastroenterology practice in the region providing care to children, teenagers, and adults across Louisville and Lexington, Kentucky, Southern Indiana, and surrounding communities. GHP has officially endorsed the Digestive Health Partners Association’s message that men and women between the ages of 45 and 75 should be screened for colorectal cancer. This endorsement is backed by the American Cancer Society which also recommends that individuals at average-risk of contracting colorectal cancer begin screenings at the age of 45. 

Our experienced team at GHP has years of experience performing colonoscopies and other colorectal cancer screenings. We can help establish the best plan of care for your situation. Contact any of our office locations to learn about the options we offer and schedule an appointment today.

What is Adenoma Detection Rate (ADR)?

For decades, the screening colonoscopy has been recognized as the most effective modality to prevent and detect colorectal cancer. By identifying and  removing precancerous polyps (adenomas), colonoscopies save thousands of  lives each year. Regularly-scheduled screening colonoscopies are crucial for  adults aged 45 and older.  

However, it’s important to note that the effectiveness and quality of each colonoscopy varies from doctor to doctor. Different levels of education,  experience, and methodologies have been found to influence the “success” of a medical practitioner at performing screening colonoscopies. These case-by-case disparities ultimately led to a need for a standard of quality, a numerical  framework. In 2002, a Multi-Society Task Force was assembled to create just that: the adenoma detection rate, or ADR. ADR gives a percentage value to  each doctor’s levels of safety, quality, and thoroughness when performing a  colonoscopy.  

How does ADR work? ADR measures the average rate of precancerous polyps that a doctor identifies and removes in each colonoscopy. In the U.S., it has been  established that at least 30% of men and 20% of women aged 50+ should have  one or more adenoma found in a colonoscopy. It has been found that doctors  that meet or exceed these national quality benchmarks are generally more likely to prevent colorectal cancer, including advanced-stage or fatal cancer. In fact, even a marginally higher ADR can indicate a significant improvement in outcome. Likewise, doctors with lower-than-average ADRs have been connected with the  failure to identify cases of colorectal cancer.  

While the ADR is considered the “gold-standard” of evaluating endoscopic quality, it is not the only measure of a doctor’s ability to identify polyps. Other well-regarded quality metrics include practices such as: the quality of bowel  preparation; patient assessments; compliance rates with general screening  guidelines; rate of complications; cecal intubation rate; withdrawal time (the  amount of time a doctor should spend withdrawing the colonoscope at the end of  the procedure, which should be at least 6 minutes); and documentation of  informed consent. 

By meeting and exceeding these standards of safety and thoroughness, your doctor directly improves your chance of identifying or preventing colorectal  cancer. Therefore, it’s not rude or uncommon to ask about your doctor’s ADR,  withdrawal time, or other procedures that ensure a quality colonoscopy. These  are serious, relevant questions that can aid in your decision to choose a gastroenterologist.  

Our board-certified team of gastroenterologists has addressed many common concerns related to colonoscopies on our website. Click on any of the questions below to see complete answers: 

  1. When should I get a colonoscopy? Isn’t 45 too young?
  2. What should I expect from my colonoscopy? How should I prepare for it? What happens during and after?
  3. Where can I read about someone else’s experience with colon cancer? 
  4. I tend to be constipated. How should I prepare for my colonoscopy?
  5. Why should I get a colonoscopy instead of other screening tests? What makes it more effective? (Video)
  6. What’s the difference between a screening colonoscopy, Cologuard, and other screening tests? (Video)

The experienced team of medical professionals at Gastroenterology Health Partners is committed to making every patient’s experience with a colonoscopy as easy and effective as possible. For more information or to schedule an appointment, contact Gastroenterology Health Partners today at a location near you.

Importance of Colon Screening in Younger Adults – Dr. Sohi Interviewed

Dr. Sunana Sohi of Gastroenterology Health Partners was recently featured in a WHAS-11 article and video about the increasing rates of colon cancer in younger adults.

The story featured Amanda Blackburn, a 37 year-old mother of two who was diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer in 2017. She received a diagnosis after coming to Dr. Sohi with her symptoms of rectal bleeding and a change in bowel habits.

Blackburn had no family history of colon cancer and knew very little about the disease, like many younger adults. “It wasn’t on my radar. The ‘C’ word wasn’t a thing for me,” she said.

Dr. Sohi was able to help Blackburn receive diagnosis and treatment.

“If you have symptoms, don’t wait. There are a lot of tests that can be done, including stool tests, but the number one, the gold standard is colonoscopy. That’s because it’s not only diagnostic but preventative, where we can find and remove small polyps before they become cancer,” Dr. Sohi said.

Read the rest of the Dr. Sohi’s write-up here.

Colon Cancer is not a disease of the elderly anymore; article

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The article also discussed the upcoming Kicking Butt 5K Run/Walk, scheduled for Saturday September 25th at the Louisville Waterfront Park. This event, sponsored by the Colon Cancer Prevention Project, was started in 2003 as a way to bring together cancer survivors and advocates, spread awareness, and encourage screenings. It’s not too late to sign up for the 5K, 1 mile, or virtual event, and support this worthy cause.

If you or a loved one are experiencing symptoms of colon cancer or another GI condition, don’t hesitate to contact Dr. Sohi or one of the many experienced physicians at Gastroenterology Health Partners.

As the largest independent gastroenterology practice in the region, GHP is considered the only one of its kind providing results-orientated treatment for a full spectrum of digestive system disorders. Call to set up an appointment at one of our locations in Southern Indiana, Northeast & Central Louisville, and Lexington.

October’s MD Update: Dr. Jones Speaks “Going on Offense Against Cancer”

Our very own Dr. Whitney Jones graced the cover of MD-Update’s October issue.  Read about how he embraces preventative measures to beat colon cancer before it starts in the following article.

“We spend a lot of money on healthcare and health insurance. The problem is, we’re not spending enough on prevention.”— Whitney Jones, MD

 In the movie “Karate Kid,” there’s a scene where Mr. Miyagi asks the title character if he’s training to fight. In his light bulb moment, the student responds that he trains, “So I won’t have to fight.”

Make no mistake, Whitney Jones, MD, knows how to treat cancer. He’s trained for it and has years of experience in it. But it’s a fight he would prefer doesn’t take place.

“We’re going on offense against cancer,” says Jones, a gastroenterologist at Gastroenterology Health Partners (GHP) in Louisville. “We are working on becoming the number one state and the first in the nation to develop programs where we can use genetic testing. We spend a lot of money on healthcare and health insurance. The problem is, we’re not spending enough on prevention. The cost of cancer treatments totally overwhelms the cost of prevention.”

That has been the central message and purpose of the Kentucky Colon Cancer Prevention Project, which Jones helped found in 2004. The project’s work includes education, advocacy, survivor support, and health system change.

“It put the work of the state in front of the legislature,” Jones says, noting that a diverse group of leaders from across the state formed the project’s advisory committee. “It added a mix of healthcare, politics, and business that was catalytic.”

The project has received state funding as well as additional funding from the Kentucky Cancer Foundation, which Jones also helped found in 2012. “We have helped pay for a lot of uninsured people to get colorectal cancer screening,” Jones says.

The impact of the Colon Cancer Prevention Project is reflected in the state’s improvement versus the rest of the country. Jones notes that Kentucky ranked 49th out of 50 in the nation in colon cancer prevention statistics when the project was launched. The state also had the highest rates of incidence and mortality in the nation. Earlier this year, Kentucky ranked 17th best in the nation in the same colon cancer related categories and earned an American Cancer Society Achievement Award for the most improved state in the nation for colorectal screening over the past 15 years.

“When we started our work at the Colon Cancer Prevention Project, there was a huge gap between what could be done and what we were doing,” Jones says. “It’s been a broad coalition, including many of our state leaders and city officials. I think it’s proven that Kentucky can address its own problems, we can develop solutions, we can implement them locally, and we can save lives and save money.”

Read the full article here:

2019 Kicking Butt 5K Event Saves Lives

Kicking Butt 5k at the waterfront Dr. Whitney Jones at the 2019 Kicking Butt 5K

Thank you to everyone who came out and participated in this year’s Kicking Butt 5K! Survivors, fighters, advocates, healthcare providers and community partners all came together on what turned out to be a beautiful Saturday to help raise awareness of colon cancer. Gastroenterology Health Partners was proud to be one of the many sponsors who made this event possible. The Waterfront Park and Big Four Bridge were gracious hosts!

2019 Kicking Butt 5K booths Gastro Health Partners at the 2019 Kicking Butt 5k

The Kicking Butt 5k is an annual race put on courtesy of the Colon Cancer Prevention Project. Our very own physician Dr. Whitney Jones founded the Colon Cancer Prevention Project in 2004.  All of the funds raised as a result of the event go towards supporting their mission of eliminating preventable colon cancer death and suffering. The Project’s resources span from education and advocacy, to health systems improvement and survivor support. While colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths, many don’t understand how preventable it is. A donation of $50 can help reach over 100 people who may need to be screened for colon cancer.

5K at the big four bridge 5k at the Louisville Waterfront Park

While the 5k is over, donations can still be made online. For more information on when you or a loved one should start the screening process, schedule an appointment with us online. We have a clinical team of 21 fellowship-trained Gastroenterologists and 13 advanced practice clinicians. All of which conveniently serve the Louisville, Lexington, Kentucky and Southern Indiana communities.

 

2019 Kicking Butt 5K

Join us Saturday, August 24th at at the beautiful Big Four Bridge on Waterfront Park in Louisville, Kentucky for the 2019 Kicking Butt 5k!

This annual family friendly event is put on by the Colon Cancer Prevention Project whose mission it is to eliminate preventable colon cancer death and suffering. Participants are encouraged to spend the morning walking, strolling, running, and rolling to a world without colon cancer! Whether you’re a survivor, fighter, advocate, healthcare provider or community partner, all are welcome!

You can donate to the cause or register for the event online. The race starts at 8:30am with day of registration beginning at 7:30am.

Kicking Butt 5k

About the Colon Cancer Prevention Project

Our very own Dr. Whitney Jones founded the Colon Cancer Prevention Project in 2004. Since then, colon cancer is down more than 25% in the state of Kentucky. The project works to bring awareness to what is a highly preventable disease as well as offer support to those fighting it.

While colon cancer is the 2nd leading cause of all cancer deaths in the United States, when it is detected early, colon cancer is up to 90% curable. According to the Colon Cancer Prevention Project, “It is estimated that 6 out of 10 (60%) deaths from colon cancer could be prevented if everyone were screened at 50.” However, even young people are at risk for developing the disease. 1 in every 10 patients diagnosed are under the age of 50.

How to Take Action

Prevent colon cancer by talking to your doctor about the right time to get screened. It is recommended that men and women of average risk should start screenings by age 50. However, those with a family history or symptoms may need to be screened sooner. Don’t be afraid to ask your family if they’ve been screened as doing so could save their life.

The Gastroenterology Health Partners proudly sponsors the 2019 Kicking Butt 5k. Get screened and schedule an appointment by contacting us today!

Gastro Health Partners’ Doctors Recognized as Louisville’s Top Docs for 2019

Louisville Magazine has just released their annual list of Louisville’s Top Docs for 2019. This year the doctors themselves cast their votes and four physicians from Gastro Health Partners were recognized in the category of gastroenterology.

When asked, “If you or a member of your family were in need of medical care or treatment, who among Louisville-area doctors would you choose to provide medical care in the following specialties?” our peers in the Greater Louisville Medical Society nominated (from left to right) Whitney F. Jones, M.D., Paul Eugene Brown, M.D., Alan J. Cox, M.D., and John C. Horlander, M.D.

                 

Dr. Whitney Jones joined Gastroenterology Health partners in 2017. He is the founder of the Colon Cancer Prevention Project and considered a national expert in the field of gastroenterology.

Dr. Paul Brown has been a member of the Louisville Gastroenterology Associates for 29 years and is Board Certified in both Internal Medicine and Gastroenterology.

Dr. Alan Cox is the author of several publications pertaining to the study of Gastroenterology. He is also Board Certified in Internal Medicine and Gastroenterology.

Dr. John Horlander is Board Certified in Internal Medicine and is actively involved in many research studies pertaining to gastroenterology.

On behalf of our team of 21 fellowship-trained Gastroenterologists and 13 advanced practice clinicians, we are proud to have been featured in this year’s issue of Louisville’s Top Docs among many other admiral physicians from the great city of Louisville. As the region’s leader in GI care, it is our mission to continue to offer cost-effective and comprehensive treatment options to those in Louisville, Lexington, Southern Indiana as well as the surrounding communities. Get screened by the best by scheduling your appointment online today.

 

 

 

 

 

 

National Clinical Alert Part 3: Preventing Young Adult Colorectal Cancer

Health care providers can aid in young adult colorectal cancer prevention by taking steps to educate the public on the rising rate of colorectal cancer found in people under the age of 55. For example, patients diagnosed with colorectal cancer prior to the age of 55 are 58% more likely than older patients to be diagnosed with a more advanced stage of the disease. This is in large part due to a general lack of awareness of young onset colorectal cancer.

The following are important actions steps health care providers can take in preventing young adult colorectal cancer:

1. Be Informative About Basic Digestive Health

Educating patients on the basics of digestive health should be part of regular office visits, especially yearly exams. Patients should understand what and where the colon is and know to take symptoms seriously should they experience them. For example, rectal bleeding and blood in the stool is never normal. Such symptoms require further assessment by a doctor to determine the root cause.

2. Relaying the Risk Factors

Patients should also be made aware of the risk factors associated with having a family history of colorectal cancer and or advanced colorectal polyps. Assessing one’s family history is critical in determining one’s risk for developing colorectal cancer themselves. Those at an increased risk may be eligible for more frequent colorectal screenings at an earlier age than others.

3. The Importance of Early Assessments

Patients at any age that are presenting symptoms or signs of colorectal cancer should be referred for diagnostic evaluation immediately and be given an early assessment with their physical exam. If found and treated early, colorectal cancer has a 90% survival rate.

To schedule an appointment or refer a patient, contact the Gastro Health Partners location nearest you today.