Patient Care

Screening Key to Early Detection of Colorectal Cancers

Mar. 11, 2009
Strong Doctors Mark Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

Colorectal cancer screening is an essential part of the health checkups you need as you grow older. If you’re over 50, University of Rochester Medical Center doctors encourage you to schedule a colorectal screening to mark Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month.

“Early detection offers the best chance for a cure,” said John Monson, M.B.B.Ch., M.D., 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. If you have a family history of colorectal cancers, you should begin screenings sooner.

There are several tests to detect colorectal cancers:

  • Annual stool tests, which are a simple at-home test you can get from your physician;
  • Every five years, you should undergo a sigmoidoscopy. This procedure allows doctors to view the lower portion of the colon for signs of cancer or polyps; and
  • Every 10 years, schedule a colonoscopy, which allows doctors to view the entire colon.

“Sadly, studies show that only half of the people who are at risk of colon and rectal cancers are getting screened regularly,” Monson said. “We have to be vigilant about getting these very important tests.”

Colon cancer is considered a silent disease, because there are no symptoms until it has reached an advanced stage and then, treatment options are limited and chances for long-term survival are lower. 

You can reduce your risk of colorectal cancers by choosing a diet rich with fruits, vegetables and grains, limiting high-fat foods, and exercising at least 30 minutes per day. Some studies show that folic acid, calcium and vitamin D also help lower your risk of colorectal cancer.

To schedule a colonoscopy, call (585) 273-2727. For more information on colorectal screening, go to: If you’re uninsured or underinsured, you can get free screening tests by contacting the Health Partnership of Monroe County at (585) 224-3070.

# # #