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Screenings, Prevention Highlighted During National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

Monday, March 11, 2019

With new cases of colorectal cancer on the rise in young and middle-aged adults, NVRH is marking National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month by challenging assumptions, raising awareness and connecting people with resources and support regarding the disease.  

Colorectal cancer – which begins in the colon or rectum – is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in men and women combined in the U.S. It is also amongst the most preventable and treatable types of cancer if found early.

“It’s often said that the most common symptoms of colon cancer are no symptoms at all, which could postpone treatment if someone actually does have cancer and is not treated. This is why screenings are so important,” NVRH Surgical Services Provider Trisha Bullard, PA-C, said. “While there are a variety of screenings, the colonoscopy is the gold standard because it provides an actual look inside the colon and rectum.”

During this procedure, a provider uses a flexible tube with a camera on the end to look at one’s colon and rectum. The patient is sedated during the procedure, so there is no discomfort or pain. The provider is looking for inflammation, polyps (which are abnormal cell growths that can later become cancerous if not removed,) other masses or concerns.  

“Not only is a colonoscopy a screening tool, but it can also be a treatment tool, in that it provides us an opportunity to remove polyps or take biopsies at that time if there is something of concern,” Bullard said.

The current recommendation is for individuals to begin having colonoscopies at age 50 unless an individual has a family history of inflammatory bowel disease, colon cancer or other genetic concerns. Patients should talk with their primary care provider about colorectal health and if they should have the screening earlier. Following the colonoscopy, if no polyps or areas of concern are found and there is no family history, then an individual is recommended to get another colonoscopy in 10 years; if there are polyps, areas of concern or family history, then a follow-up procedure is recommended in five years.

“Newer statistics show that this is not only an ‘older person’s disease’, and it can happen to younger people,” Bullard said. “Knowing your family history, talking with your primary care provider and avoiding smoking, leading a healthy lifestyle and eating a high-fiber diet can help prevent colorectal cancer no matter the age.”

To learn more about colorectal health, talk to your NVRH primary care provider, or to learn more about scheduling a colonoscopy at NVRH, contact 802-748-2984.

 


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Northeastern Vermont Regional Hospital
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St. Johnsbury, Vermont 05819
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