Colonoscopy first line of defense against colon cancer

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Colon cancer is one of the most common cancers in men and women. It is also one of the most preventable with proper screenings.

“Colonoscopy is the gold standard in preventative colon cancer screenings,” said colorectal specialist Theresa Ruddy, MD, MPH of Rome Medical Practice Surgical Specialists.

Dr. Ruddy and her partner Alberto Del Pino, MD, are colorectal surgeons who specialize in the surgical and non-surgical treatment of the colon and rectum. This includes cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, hemorrhoids and other related conditions. Both physicians perform colonoscopies at Rome Memorial Hospital, along with gastroenterologists Ajay Goel, MD and Michael Rosenfeld, MD.

“Thanks to colonoscopy screenings, colon cancer can be prevented,” Dr. Ruddy explained. “Polyps can be found and removed before they turn into cancer. In addition, a colonoscopy can detect cancer in its early stages while it is relatively easy to treat and the odds of survival are high.”

An unfortunate trend in colon cancer has been detection in younger patients, Dr. Ruddy said. As a result, the American Cancer Society recommends routine screenings starting at age 45.

Screenings are critical because most people with early colon cancer don’t have symptoms. Symptoms usually appear with more advanced disease.

“Some people resist having a colonoscopy,” Dr. Ruddy added. “But, think of it as just one day for the bowel preparation to clean out the colon and one day for the procedure. The prep and the procedure are much easier than facing a cancer diagnosis.”

Family history, smoking, obesity and having a sedentary lifestyle increase the risk of developing colon cancer. You may also be at risk for developing colon cancer if you have a history of Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis or chronic inflammatory bowel disease; are over age 50, or moderate to heavy alcohol use.

For more information on how to schedule your colonoscopy at Rome hospital, visit www.romehospital.org/Endoscopy.aspx.

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