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Preventable deaths with appropriate screenings

Roseville, Calif.- While colon cancer still claims nearly 50,000 lives each year in the United States, more patients than ever before are surviving the disease. One of the main reasons for that progress is that more and more individuals are undergoing the appropriate screenings.

Colorectal screenings can help save your life. Detecting disease early can lead to more timely and effective treatment, including removing precancerous lesions called polyps or surgery for early colon cancer. It is estimated that 90 percent of colorectal cancer deaths can be prevented if all those 50 years or older are routinely screened.

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Screenings, as recommended by leading health care organizations, are the following: high-sensitivity fecal occult blood testing (FOBT), sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy.

•FOBT tests can detect subtle blood loss from the gastrointestinal tract in stool that is not visible to the naked eye. This can be a part of annual health maintenance for individuals. If this test is positive, you and your primary care physician will talk next steps, which many times means performing a colonoscopy.

Sigmoidoscopy vs. Colonoscopy

•Sigmoidoscopy is where the lower part the colon is examined using a thin, flexible, lighted tube that has a tiny video camera attached at the end. The exam usually takes around 10 to 20 minutes. Your primary care physician decides how often you need this test, usually once every 5 years, depending on your personal risk for colon cancer. If this test shows areas of concern, e.g., polyps, then it should be followed up with a colonoscopy.

•Colonoscopy is similar to sigmoidoscopy, but the whole colon is examined with a colonoscopy. Most polyps can be removed during this test, which are the primary causes for colorectal cancer. This test should be done every 10 years unless you have a family or personal history of colon cancer or polyps.

The age-old adage says that prevention is the best medicine. Colorectal screenings definitely fall into that plan. Most insurance plans help pay for colorectal cancer screening tests for those 50 or older and for those 50 and younger who are at increased risk for colorectal cancer. These parameters also apply to those who have Medi-Cal. Check with your health insurance provider to determine your colorectal cancer screening benefits today. After all, March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month!

Dr. Kuldip is board certified in gastroenterology and internal medicine. He performs procedures at Sutter Roseville Endoscopy Center, the area’s leading outpatient endoscopy center providing a convenient quality service for endoscopic procedures. The Endoscopy Center, located on the Sutter Roseville Medical Center campus at 4 Medical Plaza Drive, Suite 210, is a joint venture between Sutter Health and Capitol Gastroenterology Medical Group.

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