Leading the way in the war against colorectal cancer

There is progress in the war against cancer, and Gastrointestinal Associates is on the forefront of this effort. The overall risk of cancer death has decreased by 20 percent over the past two decades, with colon, breast and prostate cancers showing the most improvement. The American Cancer Society credits the shift to improved prevention, screening and treatment.

The following examples demonstrate how Gastrointestinal Associates is leading the effort in our area:

  • Our quality efforts in colonoscopy recently earned a Presidential award from the American College of Gastroenterology.
  • We offer three accredited ambulatory surgery centers featuring modern equipment, highly trained staff, lower costs and greater convenience.
  • Our board certified and highly experienced physicians perform approximately 15,000 colonoscopies each year.
  • Our annual free screening colonoscopy day helps protect uninsured or underinsured people from this preventable and treatable disease and raises awareness about the importance of screenings.
  • We are leading in research to develop a blood test to diagnose colorectal cancer.

The Presidential Award from the American College of Gastroenterology recognized an abstract we presented relating to our research into recommended colonoscopy follow-up intervals. The award is reserved for research deemed to be high quality, novel, unique and interesting. Ours was one of 2,000 abstracts reviewed by the ACG Abstract Selection Committee, and was one of fewer than 5 percent to be so recognized.

It is a proven fact that screening colonoscopies save lives, through both the detection and removal of precancerous polyps and early diagnosis of colon cancer. The effectiveness of a screening colonoscopy in reducing the incidence and mortality of colorectal cancer, however, depends on the quality of the examination. We continually strive to achieve the best possible outcomes, and we were honored that our efforts were recognized by the American College of Gastroenterology, which is rare for a private practice.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t close by stressing the importance of following generally recommended guidelines for having a colonoscopy. Everyone should have their first colonoscopy by age 50, sooner for those at higher risk and at age 45 for African Americans. Risk factors include having a family history of colorectal cancer, diabetes or an inflammatory bowel disease. African Americans have the highest incidence of this type of cancer and the highest mortality rates. I cannot overstate the importance of talking to your doctor about when and how often you should have this life-saving screening.