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Colorectal Cancer Screening
Nicholas Tibaldi MD is Department Chief for Gastroenterology at Southwest Medical Associates. Gastroenterology is the branch of medicine focused on the digestive system and its disorders. Colorectal cancer is a disease he and his colleagues often face. In cancers that affect both men and women, colorectal cancer is the number two cause of deaths in the United States. However, it is a highly preventable disease.
“The colon and rectum make up the large intestine so colorectal cancer is cancer of the large intestine most often develops from a small growth called the colon polyp. Man and women of all races are at risk for colorectal cancer especially after age 50. Some people are at a higher risk due to family history of colon cancer or due to certain conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease or genetic conditions. A colonoscopy is the best test for prevention of colorectal cancer, it allows us to visualize the entire colon and rectum and remove polyps if we find them. If someone is not able to have colonoscopy we do recommend a fit test to check the stool for microscopic blood. A colonoscopy is recommended every ten years, if there is a history of polyps or other risk factors then a colonoscopy is recommended more frequently” said Dr. Tibaldi.
Southwest Medical performed over 5,700 colonoscopies in 2016. That being said many patients may be a bit squeamish about undergoing the procedure.
“I like to tell my patients that I have never had anyone blush while they were asleep for their colonoscopy! We are very conscious of patients’ modesties and we do everything we can to preserve them during the procedure” adds Dr. Tibaldi.
Dr. Tibaldi says a colonoscopy really can prevent cancer altogether. Colon Cancer especially early on, doesn’t usually cause detectable symptoms so screening is your best defense. Ask your doctor if you should be screened and see what your best options are.