Life-Saving Screenings Urged During Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month
March 5, 2014 - Albany , NY
ALBANY, N.Y., March 5, 2014 - For Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month in March, Albany Medical Center's experts note that proactive colorectal screening saves lives, especially for individuals age 50 and over, and others who are at risk for colon cancer.
Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the third most common cancer diagnosed among men and women in the United States, and the second leading cause of cancer deaths. Albany Med offers the full range of colorectal cancer screenings and treatments.
"Screening for those 50 and over is absolutely vital, since the risk of getting colorectal cancer increases with age at that point," said Vinay Sood, D.O., associate professor of Medicine and director of Advanced Endoscopy in the Division of Gastroenterology at Albany Medical College. "Sometimes individuals with CRC are asymptomatic and don't exhibit any signs indicating something is wrong."
Dr. Sood said a person could have precancerous polyps or colorectal cancer and not even know it, and that many people are not being screened according to national guidelines.
For those at risk of colon cancer, including those age 50 and over:
* Colonoscopy: Every 10 years; covered by most insurance.
* High-sensitivity fecal occult blood test (FOBT), stool test, or fecal immunochemical test (FIT): Every year.
* Sigmoidoscopy (minimally invasive medical examination of the large intestine): Every five years.
* Individuals at a higher risk for cancer, including those with a family history of colorectal polyps or cancer, genetic syndromes and inflammatory bowel disease, should consult a physician as more frequent screening and/or treatment may be needed. African Americans may be at greater risk and should begin screenings at 45.
Tests offered by Albany Med specialists can diagnose precancerous polyps that can be removed during colonoscopy and early colon cancer, which can lead to a cure without surgery. Symptoms that could indicate colorectal cancer include blood in or around the stool, stomach aches or cramps that do not abate, or unexplained weight loss, Dr. Sood said.
"Detection and removal of cancer precursor lesions during colonoscopy exams can prevent many cancers and deaths," Dr. Sood said. "Studies show screenings cut the death rate by 50 percent or more. Getting a colonoscopy or other screening is one of the smartest health decisions a person can make."
For more information about Albany Med's comprehensive screening services, go to http://www.amc.edu/Patient/services/gastroenterology.
Albany Medical Center, northeastern New York's only academic health sciences center, is one of the largest private employers in the Capital Region. It incorporates the 734-bed Albany Medical Center Hospital, which offers the widest range of medical and surgical services in the region, and the Albany Medical College, which trains the next generation of doctors, scientists and other healthcare professionals, and also includes a biomedical research enterprise and the region's largest physicians practice with more than 400 doctors. Albany Medical Center works with dozens of community partners to improve the region's health and quality of life. For more information: www.amc.edu or www.facebook.com/albanymedicalcenter.
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