From ASGE to Patients: How to Get a Quality Screening

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OAK BROOK, Ill.—Endoscopy professionals may find the following information from the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy helpful for educating patients.

One in three adults between the ages of 50 and 75 who should be screened for colorectal cancer have not gotten screened for this largely preventable disease. March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month and the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy (ASGE) recommends that, starting at age 50, everyone should have a colonoscopy to screen for colorectal cancer, even if they have no symptoms and lead a healthy lifestyle.

Screening should begin sooner if there is a family history of colorectal cancer or polyps or if other risk fact ors are present. This year, the ASGE is offering helpful tips for patients on what they can do to receive a quality colonoscopy exam.

"Colorectal cancer is one of the most preventable cancers because the majority of colorectal cancers arise from precancerous growths in the colon called polyps, which can be found during a colonoscopy screening exam and removed before they turn into cancer," said Gregory Ginsberg, MD, FASGE, president, American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy.

"ASGE represents the doctors who specialize in colorectal cancer screening and we encourage patients to get screened at recommended intervals as directed by their doctor, to find a qualified doctor for their colonoscopy who has had specialized training in the procedure and to carefully follow exam preparation instructions to ensure that the colon is thoroughly cleaned so that no polyps or cancers are missed during the procedure," he continued. "A quality preparation for colonoscopy and appropriate follow-up exams save lives."

Colonoscopy is a common and very safe procedure that examines the lining of the lower intestinal tract called the colon or large intestine or bowel. A doctor specially trained in the procedure uses a flexible tube that has a light and miniature TV camera on the tip. This instrument, often referred to as the "scope," is placed in the rectum and advanced through the colon. It is connected to a television monitor that the doctor watches while performing the test. Various miniaturized tools can be inserted through the scope to help the doctor obtain biopsies (samples) of the colon and to perform a wide range of maneuvers to help diagnose or treat a condition. When used as a colon cancer prevention method, colonoscopy can find potentially precancerous polyps and remove them before they turn into cancer.

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