Dr. Adam Dachman, General Surgeon, is the Chief of Surgery at Upland Hills Health. He has practiced at Upland Hills Health since 1995 and specializes in laparascopic surgeries and endoscopies (including colonoscopy).
The American Cancer Society just released a new guideline recommending that we start getting colonoscopies at age 45. That means you’ll have to decide earlier whether you’ll choose the benefits of colonoscopy or do what many other Americans do about this issue—avoid the heck out of it.
Colon cancer is the 3rd leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States of America. What is so perplexing is that this disease is largely preventable by one method: colonoscopy.
At Upland Hills Health, we do nearly a thousand colonoscopies every year. We have not brought colon cancer numbers down as far as we can, however, because there are still people who avoid the procedure. The only patients we see colon cancer in today are those who have not had a colonoscopy or those who were too young to have one. With the new guidelines in place, we should be able to prevent even more cancers from happening.
The purpose of a colonoscopy is not to only find cancer, but to prevent it from happening in the first place. Allow me to explain:
Colon cancer starts as a benign problem called a polyp. A colon polyp is a small, pimple- sized growth in the lining of the colon. It is benign—not cancerous—but if left to grow in size, it can become a malignant tumor which can spread throughout the body and cause death.
Imagine catching a robber outside of a house before they ever break in. That is what removing a polyp is similar to—we stop the cancer from ever happening in the first place.
Are there alternatives?
Some people are asking about a new test called Cologuard. This new test is not a prevention tool. It may detect colon cancer after it has already developed. If Cologuard results are negative, you still may have pre-cancerous polyps. A colonoscopy remains that best way to screen for, and prevent, colon cancer.
New American Cancer Society Guidelines
Patients who are at average risk* should schedule a colonoscopy starting at age 45. This is a brand new recommendation, so it may be wise to check with your insurance company to see if they will cover the procedure.
Get your colonoscopy set up.
Getting a colonoscopy at Upland Hills Health is very easy. Just call our clinic at 608.930.7115. Scheduling is convenient and simple. Our colonoscopy physicians have exceptional experience and use the finest monitoring equipment and video scopes available.
*Average risk means that you have no first-degree relatives with colon cancer and fewer than two first-degree relatives with pre-cancerous polyps.
More about digestive health can be found at https://www.uplandhillshealth.org/our-services/digestive-health-reflux/