Hospital CEO sets example getting colonoscopy

Basil Ariglio .

When Basil Ariglio’s doctor recommended that he get a routine colonoscopy when he turned 50, he didn’t think twice about getting it scheduled.

"A colonoscopy is the one screening test that can actually prevent cancer," said Ariglio, Rome Memorial Hospital’s president and chief executive officer. "With this one test, I am able to reduce my risk of dying from colon cancer in half. I can’t argue with those figures."

Colon cancer starts in the large intestine as a polyp, a benign growth made up of precancerous cells. During a colonoscopy, most polyps can be removed before they turn cancerous. Most patients who develop colon cancer experience no symptoms until the disease is advanced and difficult to treat. That’s why screenings are so important.

"Studies have proven that colonoscopies save lives," Ariglio said. "Unfortunately, some people are afraid of them or embarrassed about having the procedure done. As a result, colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in both men and women. When you turn 50, listen to your doctor and schedule your colonoscopy. It’s easier than facing a cancer diagnosis."

Colonoscopy is a painless procedure that uses a flexible scope with a camera to examine the lining of the colon for polyps. To prepare for the procedure, patients have to drink a solution to clear out the colon so the doctor can easily see any polyps and remove them. Different health conditions require different types of preparations.

"No one looks forward to this procedure, but we do everything we can to help alleviate people’s fears when they come in for the test," said Babette Clapper, RN, CGRN, who has more than 21 years of experience. "We explain all aspects of their visit for the procedure. We are very conscious of protecting the patient’s dignity and privacy. During the procedure, we cover the patient in such a way to minimize exposure to just the immediate area."

"It sounds worse than it is. You’re sedated, so it doesn’t hurt," said Ariglio, who had his test performed at Rome Memorial Hospital in March, which is coincidentally National Colorectal Cancer Month.

"Our staff and physicians are very professional and respectful of the patient’s dignity and privacy. They are committed to the work that they do to prevent cancer and save lives. I wouldn’t go anywhere else when I can receive exceptional care from people I know and trust," Ariglio said.

About 140,000 Americans are diagnosed with colorectal cancer every year, with nearly 90 percent of the disease occurring in people 50 and older. Family history, smoking, obesity and having a sedentary lifestyle increase the risk of developing colon cancer.

Everyone over age 50 should get a colonoscopy, and at-risk groups should start earlier. For people of average risk, a colonoscopy is recommended every 10 years, if no polyps are found.

Board certified gastroenterologists Ajay Goel, M.D., and Michael Rosenfeld, M.D. perform thousands of colonoscopies a year at Rome Memorial Hospital to protect patients against cancer. They each have more than 20 years of experience caring for patients with digestive tract problems, such as swallowing disorders, heartburn, irritable bowel syndrome, ulcers, colon cancer, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. They also treat patients with diseases of the liver and pancreas, which can impact a patient’s digestive health.

Located at 1617 N. James St., Rome, Drs. Goel and Rosenfeld are accepting new patients. For more information, call 337-0539.