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Colorectal Cancer Screening at Castle


by James Panetta, DO

In the United States, colorectal cancer is on of the most common malignancies with nearly 150,000 new cases diagnosed annually. Accounting for more than 50,000 deaths each year, it is also a leading cause of cancer related deaths. It is an insidious illness with most patients exhibiting little to no symptoms early on in the course of the disease. By the time symptoms have developed, it is often too advanced for curative options. Fortunately, in the past few decades, there has been a decline in deaths due to colorectal cancer, mostly attributed to greater awareness and the introduction of screening programs that can help in early diagnosis and prevention of this deadly condition.

Because most colorectal cancers occur after age 50, screening for it is recommended to start at that time. However, based on recent data, there has been an effort to consider initiating a screening at a younger age. Individuals at higher risk based on various factors, such as a family history of colorectal cancer, may be advised to start earlier.

Colonoscopy is the most sensitive and accurate way to screen for and prevent colorectal cancer. It is a simple, safe and effective procedure that has been credited with saving countless lives. Since it is an outpatient procedure, there is no need for an inpatient hospital stay, and most of the preparation is completed in the comfort of your home. It is typically performed under sedation so that there is virtually no discomfort or recollection of the operation for a vast majority of patients.

During the procedure, a long, flexible tube, equipped with a light and a high definition fiberoptic camera is inserted in the rectum and gently maneuvered throughout the entire length of the colon. As the device is carefully withdrawn, great care is taken by the physician to look for growths called polyps and other abnormalities of the lining of the large intestine.

If a polyp is encountered, it can be removed immediately with a variety of tools that are inserted through a channel in the scope, without the need for a subsequent procedure. Since most colorectal cancers are derived from polyps, removing them can help prevent an individual from developing the condition in the future.

At Adventist Health Castle, we offer colonoscopy for colorectal cancer screening as part of a comprehensive preventative health maintenance program. If you are over the age of 50, or have a family history of colorectal cancer, or another risk factor for the condition, your primary care physician can refer you to consult with a board-certified gastroenterologist who performs colonoscopies.

In addition, we also offer direct access colonoscopy. This program allows busy individuals who do not have any digestive symptoms, but simply need to undergo colorectal cancer screening, to schedule the procedure directly. In this program, you submit a medical questionnaire that is then reviewed by the doctor and, if approved, you are scheduled for the procedure without having to make time for an additional preoperative consultation. You will then meet the physician performing the operation on the day of the procedure and any questions you have will be answered at that time.

Find a gastroenterologist to set up your colorectal cancer screening.