by Dr. Scott A. Merkley, Lexington Clinic Gastroenterologist
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 50,000 Americans die from colorectal cancer each year. In the U.S., colorectal cancer (CRC) is the third most common cancer diagnosed among men and women and the second leading cause of death from cancer. However, through regular screenings (including colonoscopies) many of these deaths can be prevented.
A colonoscopy, an endoscopic procedure that examines the entire length of the large intestine, is recommended every 10 years for CRC screening in average-risk adults beginning at age 50. A colonoscopy may be recommended before age 50 in individuals that are at higher-risk than average for developing CRC. Patients who are at increased risk for CRC development include:
Patients with a personal history of CRC
Patients with a family history of CRC or polyps (precursors to cancer)
Patients with a personal history of inflammatory bowel disease
Patients with a family history of hereditary non-polyposis CRC (Lynch Syndrome) or familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP)
Routine colonoscopy screening can help prevent many cases of CRC by detecting and removing polyps before they have the chance to turn into cancer. Screening colonoscopy can also help find CRC early, and survival is significantly better when CRC is detected in early stage before it has spread.
In addition to regular colonoscopy screenings, a patient can also make lifestyle changes to lower their risk of developing CRC. These lifestyle changes may include staying physically active and maintaining a healthy weight, limiting alcohol consumption, eating more fruits and vegetables and less foods higher in fat, and avoiding tobacco use.
To learn more about your individual risk for developing colorectal cancer or to schedule your own colonoscopy, please call (859) 258-4950 today.
Scott A. Merkley, MD, is a board-certified gastroenterologist at Lexington Clinic. He provides services in diagnostic and therapeutic endoscopy including colonoscopy with biopsy and polypectomy, flexible sigmoidoscopy with biopsy and polypectomy, upper endoscopy with biopsy, band ligation of varices, dilation of esophagus and pylorus, argon plasma coagulation/ablation of angiodysplasia, PEG placement/replacement and wireless small bowel capsule endoscopy (Pillcam).
Lexington Clinic is Central Kentucky’s largest and oldest medical group. With 200+ providers in more than 30 specialties, we have been taking care of 600,000+ patients annually in the Lexington community since 1920.