Colorectal cancer affects the colon and rectum. A growth, known as a polyp, appears on the lining of the colon or rectum and becomes cancerous. Colorectal cancer is the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States. It can often be cured, especially when detected early.
Get tested for colon cancer
For most people, routine screening for early signs of cancer should begin at age 50, or earlier if you have a family history of colorectal cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, or other risk factors. There are several ways to test for colorectal cancer. The most effective method is a medical procedure called colonoscopy. It involves a long flexible tube to look inside the colon, remove any polyps, and take samples of abnormal-looking tissues. To prepare for a colonoscopy, you must make sure your stomach is empty. You'll be asked to drink a special liquid the day before the procedure to help clear out your system. During a colonoscopy, sedative and pain medications are typically administered to keep you comfortable. Please know that you won't be able to drive for 12 hours after a colonoscopy to allow the sedatives to wear off. Please come with someone who can drive you home.
If the results of a colonoscopy are normal, you won't need another screening for at least ten years. However, abnormal findings, an individual's pre-existing medical condition, or a family history of colorectal cancer require more frequent testing.
A gastroenterologist performs colonoscopies. RiverBend Medical Group has three such specialists: Dr. Steven Samuels, Dr. Mark Hirschkorn, and Dr Shelly Rahn. They perform most of their colonoscopies in our brand-new, state-of-the-art endoscopy suite at our Chicopee location. Michael McDonald, PA-C, also serves in our Gastroenterology Practice. He is available to patients for consultation and follow-up visits along with our Gastroenterology Physicians.
If you are a RiverBend Medical Group patient and feel that you may be due for colorectal cancer screening, please talk with your Primary Care Provider (PCP).
Watch this short video to learn more about colonoscopy: