Northwestern Memorial physicians encourage screenings during colon cancer awareness month

al cancer remains the second-leading cause of cancer death in the United States even though if found and treated at an early stage, the opportunity to cure it is 90 percent or better.

Screenings are used to reveal the presence of polyps, which are growths of tissue projecting from the inner lining of the colon or rectum. Some polyps are more dangerous than others, but most are benign if removed early.

Men and women who are not at increased risk of colon cancer should begin getting regular screenings for colorectal cancer by age 50. "I recommend colonoscopies because they provide the least amount of discomfort, the physician can see the entire colon and they only need to be done once every ten years," says Dr. Halverson. Colonoscopy uses a flexible, slender tube that contains a micro video camera at its tip to detect polyps or other suspicious matter. The colonoscope not only allows identification and localization of the disease process, but also allows biopsy or even removal of polyps.

Steven Stryker, MD, a gastrointestinal surgeon at Northwestern Memorial specializing in colon cancer, and an associate professor at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine, believes that many patients avoid screenings because they think having colon cancer will mean having a colostomy bag for the rest of their lives. When colorectal cancer is discovered, surgery is almost always the preferred treatment. However, Dr. Stryker wants to spread the word that colorectal cancer surgery hardly ever requires a permanent colostomy as in years past. "Our goal is to always preserve normal function as well as to perform a potentially life-saving surgery," says Dr. Stryker. "Without proper education as to state-of -the -art treatment options currently available, many patients are more afraid of the surgical procedure than of the disease itself."

For more information or to schedule a screening, please call 312.926.8400.


Contact: Molly Rabinovitz
Northwestern Memorial Hospital

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