Long Beach Memorial has joined the “80% by 2018” initiative – a National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable initiative in which organizations are working toward the goal of screening 80% of adults aged 50 and older for colorectal cancer by 2018.
Colorectal cancer refers to cancers in the colon or rectum. Most colorectal cancers begin as small growths (polyps) on the lining of the colon. Although not all polyps are cancerous, it’s important to identify and remove these polyps to reduce and prevent the risk of developing cancer.
Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer and the third leading cause of cancer deaths among men and women in the U.S. However, with early detection and regular screenings, colorectal cancer is one of the most preventable and treatable cancers. Currently, about 1 in 3 adults between 50 and 75-years-old – approximately 23 million people – are not getting tested as recommended.
According to the National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable, if 80% of eligible people are screened by 2018, 203,000 colorectal cancer deaths would be prevented by 2030.
A colonoscopy is usually recommended at age 50 in the average risk person. The gold standard for colorectal cancer screening is a colonoscopy. There are several other screening test options including stool tests or fecal immunochemical tests and sigmoidoscopies.
“A colonoscopy is usually recommended at age 50 for most patients,” says Bhavesh Shah, M.D., Gastroenterology Director, MemorialCare Todd Cancer Institute, Long Beach Memorial. “For patients with a family history of colorectal cancer or a history of polyps, there’s a higher risk of developing colon cancer. That’s why it’s vital for people to have conversations with their doctor about earlier or more frequent screenings.”
“There’s a lot of information available to the community about breast cancer, but you don’t often hear about colorectal cancer,” says Imad Shbeeb, M.D., medical director, Colorectal Surgery Program, MemorialCare Todd Cancer Institute, Long Beach Memorial.
While some patients don’t present with any symptoms, others may disregard gastrointestinal symptoms like cramping, abdominal pain, constipation and even blood in their stool as a normal part of aging.
“Unfortunately, many patients dismiss the early signs, which is when the disease is most curable. These can be the telltale signs that there is more going on,” says Dr. Shbeeb. “Of course, these symptoms don’t always mean cancer but the only way we will know is through screening and prevention. That’s the best strategy against fighting cancer.”
The MemorialCare Todd Cancer Institute at Long Beach Memorial offers a collaborative approach to the screening and treatment of patients with colorectal cancer. Dr. Shah, who is also the Medical Director of Interventional Gastroenterology at Long Beach Memorial, utilizes advanced endoscopy to provide safe and effective alternatives to invasive diagnostic testing or surgery. The use of this advanced technology allows Dr. Shah to diagnose and remove early cancers and treat more complicated diseases in a minimally invasive fashion.
During Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month in March, Long Beach Memorial encourages those eligible in the Long Beach community to stay ahead of colorectal cancer and get screened.
For more information on screenings and ways to encourage loved ones to commit to regular screenings, visit MemorialCare.org/Colorectal or call (562) 933-1877. Remember, you may need a referral from your primary care physician in order to schedule a colonoscopy.