6 DignityHealth.org/Merced | Fall 2019 COLORECTAL CANCER The best treatment is prevention Colorectal cancer is all too common: In the U.S., it’s the second leading cause of cancer death among men and women combined. But there’s good news. According to Nadir Edmond Adam, MD, dual board-certified general surgeon and colorectal surgeon at Dignity Health, the best treatment option is actually prevention—in the form of regular screenings. “Screening for colorectal cancer is highly recommended. It’s a common tumor, and if caught early, the five-year survival rate is more than 90%,” he notes. Screening options Most people should begin screening for colorectal cancer at age 50. Earlier screening is recommended based on risk factors such as a family history of colorectal cancer or if you have conditions like ulcerative colitis or have previously had colon polyps. Dr. Adam describes the varying levels of colorectal cancer screening: ● ● Stool test. This includes both a fecal occult blood test, recommended yearly, and Cologuard, recommended every three years. If positive, patients should undergo a colonoscopy. ● ● Sigmoidoscopy. This is a colonoscopy that is limited to just the left side of the colon—which is where cancer is detected in more than 50% of cases. A barium enema is combined with this screening method to allow doctors to see the whole colon. ● ● Colonoscopy. Considered the “gold standard” in colorectal cancer screening, this exam lets doctors see the entire colon and identify any polyps needing removal for biopsy. It requires bowel prep and is typically done under conscious sedation. ● ● CT colonography: If the patient cannot tolerate traditional colonoscopy, this screening technique examines the colon by visualizing it through the CT scan. “With any of the nontraditional colonoscopy techniques, if cancer is suspected, colonoscopy is the next step,” Dr. Adam says. And the best part? Removing polyps during a colonoscopy can prevent colon cancer entirely—a perfect example of prevention as medicine. Hear from the expert! Go to dignityhealth.org/ merced/podcasts to hea r Dr. Adam explain more about colorectal cancer— including the symptoms, diagnosis and treatment. Start your screening Talk to your doctor about getting screened. Don’t have a doctor? We can help you find one at dignityhealth.org/ ourdoctors .