House Call: Colorectal Cancer — Signs, Symptons, Screening and Prevention

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Colorectal cancer causes the second highest number of cancer deaths in the United States.

Yet, it is a form of cancer that is majorly preventable and easily detected early through the use of colonoscopy.

More Info: Colorectal Cancer Awareness

Colonoscopies are the gold standard of screening methods for colorectal cancer.  Colorectal cancer occurs in men and women equally, therefore it is recommended for everyone to begin getting colonoscopies at the age of fifty, unless there is a family history of the disease.

Signs and symptoms of colorectal cancer include rectal bleeding, substantial change in bowel habits, unexplained abdominal pain and/or unusual weight loss.  Symptoms of colorectal cancer most often present in the late stages of the disease, when treatment and curing it can prove much more difficult.

Risk for developing colorectal cancer increases with age and if there is family history of the disease, but most cases of colorectal cancer are spontaneous.  The late presenting symptoms and spontaneity of the disease also emphasizes the importance of getting screened through the use of colonoscopy.

Through the use of colonoscopy, gastroenterologists can not only detect and diagnose malignancies in the colon, but they can also detect and remove possibly pre-cancerous polyps lining the colon—significantly decreasing risk of developing colorectal cancer.

Despite common belief, colonoscopies are painless procedures in which the patient is properly sedated and gastroenterologists are actually able to remove any polyps discovered during the colonoscopy procedure as well.

Cone Health has an exceptional network of primary care physicians and gastroenterologists who are dedicated to educating the community about the importance of colorectal cancer screening and making sure they get colonoscopies within the recommended time frame.

Physician Background:

Dr. Malcolm Stark is a board certified gastroenterologist and member of Cone Health Medical Staff.

Dr. Stark is a 1985 graduate of New York University School of Medicine.  He completed his residency in internal medicine at University of Virginia Health Sciences Center and completed a fellowship in gastroenterology at Georgetown University Medical Center.