Screening Key to Early Detection of Colorectal Cancers

March 08, 2010

An estimated 148,000 people will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer this year and nearly 50,000 will die from the disease. The numbers are intimidating, especially for a cancer that can be prevented and, when it’s detected early, the five-year survival rate is 90 percent.

Colorectal cancer is a screening is an essential part of the process, especially when you reach 50, according to doctors at the University of Rochester Medical Center.

“Early detection is so very important for people when it comes to all cancers.  Colorectal cancer is most curable when it’s found early and in many patients colonoscopy can actually prevent the cancer developing,” said John R.T. Monson, M.D., F.A.C.S., chief of the Division of Colorectal Surgery at the Medical Center and James P. Wilmot Cancer Center. Every year, more than 150,000 people are diagnosed with colorectal cancers.

“Screening colonoscopy is a safe, effective and well tolerated outpatient procedure and one of the most powerful preventive tools in clinical medicine,” said Vivek Kaul,, M.D., F.A.C.G., acting chief of the Division of Gastroenterology & Hepatology

Colorectal cancer strikes both men and women and is even more prevalent among African-Americans. Smoking, a diet high in fat and low in calcium, folate and fiber, and a family history of the disease are all risk factors. More than 90 percent of cases are diagnosed after age 50.

If you have a family history of colorectal cancers or notice changes in your bowels, you should talk with your doctor and begin screenings sooner.

There are several tests to detect colorectal cancers:

  • Annual fecal occult blood tests (stool sample) which are a simple at-home test your physician can provide;  
  • Every five years, you should undergo a flexible sigmoidoscopy. This procedure allows doctors to view the lower third of the colon for signs of cancer or polyps; and
  • Every 10 years, schedule a colonoscopy, which allows doctors to view the entire colon and is considered the gold standard for screening.

 Doctors in the Medical Center’s Gastroenterology/Hepatology and Colorectal Surgery programs provide colonoscopies. To schedule one, call (585) 273-2727 or (585) 275-4711.  If you’re uninsured or underinsured, you can get free screening tests by contacting the Cancer Services Program of Monroe County at (585) 224-3070.

For Media Inquiries:
Leslie White
(585) 273-1119
Email Leslie White