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MUSCMedical LinksCharleston LinksArchivesCatalyst AdvertisersSeminars and EventsResearch StudiesPublic RelationsResearch GrantsMUSC home pageCommunity HappeningsCampus NewsApplause


March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

As part of the national class of cancer prevention and treatment centers, the Digestive Disease Center (DDC), in concert with Hollings Cancer Center, is devoted to more effective and less invasive cancer prevention detection and treatment.
Colon cancer is one of the most preventable but deadly cancers, afflicting 6 percent of the population. This year marks the 10th anniversary of Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, originally established in March 1999.
Several methods for screening for colon cancer are available and depend on a physician’s recommendation and an individual’s physical and medical needs. While most people who develop colon cancer have no family history nor experience any symptoms, everyone should get screened beginning at age 50. Consider that mammography and prostate-specific antigen tests often detect cancer once it develops, colon cancer can be prevented by screening.
The DDC offers the latest and most effective endoscopic screening capabilities, which utilize high definition monitors and endoscopes with narrow band imaging. These tools help improve traditional colonoscopies, because they help specialists detect polyps, even flat polyps that can be missed using virtual or other screening methods.

When detected, polyps are removed by DDC specialists; as well as superficial cancers using endoscopic mucosal resection. These endoscopic methods decrease the need for surgery. In addition, endoscopic ultrasound staging allows specialists to tailor radiation and chemotherapy decisions for rectal cancer, thereby reducing the radiation dose necessary for a procedure.
If surgery is required for cancer, surgeons perform minimally-invasive procedures whenever possible. Advances in technology make it possible to remove many tumors via laparoscopy to reconnect tissue near the anus, which helps avoid an ostomy, or construction of an external, artificial bowel.
Meanwhile, DDC is researching and developing screening tests for polyps and cancers using blood sample tests to reduce the need for invasive procedure for persons with normal blood test results. DDC specialists also are seeking to understand and close racial and gender gaps in colon cancer care, and are researching ways to improve the quality of colonoscopies.

Friday, March 13, 2009

The Catalyst Online is published weekly by the MUSC Office of Public Relations for the faculty, employees and students of the Medical University of South Carolina. The Catalyst Online editor, Kim Draughn, can be reached at 792-4107 or by email, Editorial copy can be submitted to The Catalyst Online and to The Catalyst in print by fax, 792-6723, or by email to To place an ad in The Catalyst hardcopy, call Island Publications at 849-1778, ext. 201.