March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month! The dark blue ribbon has not yet reached the prominence of the pink ribbons we see every October for breast cancer, but its message is the same – dispel the myths and raise awareness of a deadly disease.
Colon cancer is the third leading cause of cancer deaths in men AND women. Research shows that more and more cases are being found in younger and younger people. Much can be done to prevent and treat this cancer through proper screening and early detection. Most cancers start out as small polyps. Colonoscopy is one of the only ways we can actually prevent a cancer from developing by removing these growths before they become malignant. Most other colon cancer tests are aimed at detecting already growing tumors.
An excellent bowel prep and a thorough and skilled examination are essential in getting the best results from your colonoscopy. Experience matters. Talk with your provider about who, how, where and when you should have this done. Here are some important quality indicators for endoscopic:
Adenoma Detection Rate (ADR) – Describes percentage of patients in whom adenomatous polyps (precancerous) are identified and removed. Higher percentage is better cancer prevention.
Cecal Intubation Rate – Shows provider skills in examining the whole colon.
Withdrawl Time – You want the provider doing a thorough exam. Increased time has been repeatedly associated with increased ADR, thus reducing a patient’s risk of cancer.
Post-Polypectomy Bleed Rate – Most common complication after colonoscopy. May be delayed hours to up to 14 days.
Please check out some links I have included to learn more about inherited risks, when to screen, and how often. Also a humerous tale by Dave Barry (although we have made some significant improvements to the prep he used). It’s really not all that bad.