Recognizing Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month
February 12, 2024
Understanding the Importance of Local, Preventative Screenings
As 2024 calendars fill with birthdays, vacations, weddings and more, it’s important to prioritize other calendar events like routine physicals, screenings and exams. While often less exciting to have on the schedule, these proactive and preventive appointments are what help catch minor health issues before they become larger problems – providing the best chance of successful patient outcomes.
Doctors say this is especially true when it comes to preventing larger issues such as colorectal cancer.
Observed annually in March, National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month helps highlight the importance of screening for colorectal cancer, along with promoting healthy lifestyle habits to decrease the risk of cancer developments.
For decades, colorectal cancer was associated with an older population. However, new data from the American Cancer Society shows that a younger population is becoming more at risk. While doctors don’t know why more young people are getting colon cancer, there are some suspected causes, including obesity, alcohol use and poor diet. In addition to lifestyle, there are other risk factors including ethnicity and family history.
However, regardless of age, doctors remind patients that with the right care and screenings, colorectal cancer is preventable, treatable and beatable. If detected early, patients diagnosed with colorectal cancer can expect a 90% survival rate.
Small procedure, big benefits
Considered the best and most sensitive screening test to detect problems in the large intestine (colon) or rectum that could lead to cancer, a colonoscopy is painless, quick and extremely accurate. What’s better? If no abnormalities are found and the patient doesn’t have an increased risk of colorectal cancer, the screening is only repeated every five to 10 years. Current recommendations are to start colorectal cancer screenings at the age of 45, continuing until age 75.
Performed using a long, flexible tube called a colonoscope, a colonoscopy gives the doctor a view inside the colon to look for problems that could indicate early signs of cancer, like inflamed tissue, ulcers or bleeding. In some cases, precancerous polyps – abnormal growths – are found and removed during the exam without the need to schedule a follow-up appointment.
In the Quad Cities, patients can turn to Quad City Gastroenterology (QCG) in both Moline and Davenport for their preventative care. With a combined 100 years of experience, the QCG team of board-certified and fellowship-trained gastroenterologists – including Dr. Shashinath Chandrahasegowda (Dr. Shashi), Dr. Sreenivas Chintalapani, Dr. Bettaiah Gowda and Dr. Linda Tong –believe in patient-centered, personalized and proactive GI care.
When procedures are needed, multiple physicians at Quad City Gastroenterology perform them at Mississippi Valley Endoscopy Center (MVEC), located in Davenport. Utilizing the latest advancements in technology including endoscopic ultrasound, colorectal cancer screenings and endoscopies in a comfortable, outpatient setting like MVEC allows patients to recover at home within one hour or so after their procedure.
Remaining proactive against colorectal cancer
Though it may be uncomfortable to talk about, getting a colonoscopy is a simple precaution that could save your life. If you have any concerns about your colon health or think it may be time to get screened, talk to your doctor about getting started – especially if you’re experiencing any of the following symptoms:
- A change in bowel habits
- Blood in or on your stool
- Rectal bleeding with bright red blood
- Diarrhea, constipation or feeling that your bowel doesn’t fully empty
- Unexpected weight loss
- Cramping or belly pain
- Weakness and fatigue