Saint Luke's Suggests Colonoscopy for Colorectal Cancer Prevention

Mar 26, 2013, 12:10 ET from Saint Luke’s Hospital of Kansas City

Cancer screening procedure most important for colorectal cancer prevention for people over 50 or those with high risk factors; Colonoscopy recommended once every 10 years

KANSAS CITY, Mo., March 26, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- If you are 50 years old or older, getting a colonoscopy could save your life. March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, and doctors with Saint Luke's gastroenterology program are encouraging this regular screening for colorectal cancer prevention.

While colonoscopy is one of the most dreaded mid-life tests, it's important because as many as 60 percent of deaths from colon cancer could be avoided through screening.

"There are misconceptions about the screening," said Saint Luke's GI Specialists gastroenterologist Wendell K. Clarkston, M.D. "But it's not that difficult. Patients we've treated for pre-cancerous conditions are happy they had the test."

Colorectal cancer occurs in the colon or rectum. Colorectal cancer usually starts from polyps, a growth that over time could develop into cancer. Screening helps identify polyps so they can be removed, or find cancer early, when chances for cure are better.

"People over age 50 are most at risk for developing colorectal cancer, and that risk increases with age," said Dr. Clarkston. People at higher risk may need to start screening earlier than age 50. Risk may be higher than average if:

  • You or a close relative have had colorectal polyps or colorectal cancer
  • You have inflammatory bowel disease
  • You have a genetic syndrome such as familiar adenomatous polyposis or hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer

Symptoms of polyps or colorectal cancer include:

  • Blood in or on your stool (bowel movement)
  • Pains, aches, or cramps in the stomach that don't go away
  • Losing weight for unknown reasons

Doctors recommend screening tests that can be used alone or in combination with each other. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends colorectal cancer screening for men and women aged 50-75 using high-sensitivity fecal occult blood testing (recommend once a year), sigmoidoscopy (once every five years), or colonoscopy (once every 10 years).

"Colorectal cancer is the second leading cancer killer, but it doesn't have to be," said Dr. Clarkston. "If you are 50 or older, talk with your doctor about getting screened."

Saint Luke's GI Specialists is a referral-based practice specializing in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases of the esophagus, stomach, small intestine, colon and rectum, pancreas, liver, gallbladder, and biliary system. The practice offers multi-disciplinary care in two convenient, patient-friendly offices and outpatient surgical centers, and collaborates closely with Saint Luke's Liver & Transplant Specialists and Saint Luke's Surgical Specialists.

Saint Luke's Hospital is a member of Saint Luke's Health System, which consists of 10 area hospitals and many primary care practices, and provides a range of inpatient, outpatient, and home care services. Founded as a faith-based, not-for-profit organization, our mission includes a commitment to the highest levels of excellence in health care and the advancement of medical research and education. The health system is an aligned organization in which the physicians and hospitals assume responsibility for enhancing the physical, mental, and spiritual health of people in the metropolitan Kansas City area and the surrounding region.

SOURCE Saint Luke’s Hospital of Kansas City