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March kicks off Colorectal Cancer Awareness month, a time that is dedicated to prevention of a terrible and all too common disease. At Digestive and Liver Specialists, one of our most important goals is fighting colorectal cancer.

Colorectal cancer is the second largest cause of cancer deaths in the United States. In 2010 the American Cancer Society found that there were 142,570 new diagnoses of colon or rectal cancer in the United States, and 51,370 deaths attributable to this very common disease. Many cases are found in people who did not become symptomatic until the disease had spread widely throughout the body, drastically reducing the chances for a cure.

Fortunately, there is a lot that you can do to help prevent colorectal cancer:
• Have a screening colonoscopy after turning 50
• Eat a diet that is low in fat and high in fruits, vegetables and fiber
• Don’t smoke
• Stay physically active and maintain a normal body weight
Screening colonoscopy is an outpatient procedure and people usually are able to go back to work the day after undergoing the procedure. Our experience is that the great majority of patients have little or no discomfort. The procedure removes polyps, the precursor lesion to colon cancer. During the procedure, polyps that are found are removed, providing both a therapeutic as well as diagnostic benefit.
Undergoing a colonoscopy also aids your family. If you have colon polyps or colon cancer then your closest relatives are at increased risk for developing the disease and will need to be screened more closely. If you have a family member with a history of colon cancer or colon polyps, or a personal history of inflammatory bowel disease, you should speak to your doctor, since you may need to undergo colonoscopy before age 50.
Many people avoid screening colonoscopy out of concerns for discomfort or embarrassment; our physicians and staff are dedicated to making the procedure as trouble free as possible and we frequently hear that it was really “no big deal”. Other patients avoid the procedure because of concerns over costs. Screening colonoscopy is covered by most insurance plans, and we can help you find out about associated costs before you undergo the procedure. The benefits of a screening colonoscopy almost always greatly outweigh the costs.
If you are ready to have the procedure, or just want to talk things over about colorectal cancer, please make an appointment to see us by calling 713-461-1026.

COLE THOMSON, M.D., Ph.D.
PARTNER AND PHYSICIAN

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