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,
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
Friday, March 13, 2009