Dr. Hakert creating a new blog post
March 9 5:24 PM

I just completed my follow up colonoscopy and I hope you are current with yours.

March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month and there are many important aspects about colon cancer that make it important for us to raise awareness on this topic.

First.  Colon cancer is very common.  In the US this year alone over 140,000 people will be diagnosed with colon cancer and about 50,000 people will die from it!  It is the second leading cause of cancer death in America.  Lung cancer is number one.

Let me repeat that.  In the United States of America, in the year 2015, over 140,000 people will be diagnosed with colon cancer and about 50,000 patients will die from this disease.

These numbers are huge!  Colon cancer is a serious health problem in America and has a tremendous impact on us both financially and emotionally.

Second.  I think this fact is even more important than the first.  In most cases colon cancer is actually a preventable disease.  That’s what I said.  A cancer that will afflict over 140,000 Americans this year alone is actually preventable in most cases.  This is a very important feature for us to understand because it makes the need for screening of paramount importance.  The reason for this is because almost all colon cancers arise out of polyps.  A polyp is a growth that occurs in the colon and overtime it can turn into a cancer.

Colon polyps are actually very common and can be found in more than 20% of patients over the age of 50.  Most polyps will never turn into cancer but you can’t tell just by looking at a polyp if it will or wont so if one is found it should be removed.

Simply by removing these polyps you can prevent them from ever turning into a cancer.

There are several different ways an individual can get screened for colon cancer, including: colonoscopy, stool test (guaiac fecal occult blood test [FOBT] or fecal immunochemical test [FIT], and sigmoidoscopy.  The American College of Gastroenterology recommends colonoscopy as the preferred cancer prevention strategy.

A colonoscopy exam uses a long flexible scope, which contains a small camera and light on the end.  This instrument can be inserted throughout the entire colon of a sedated patient at which time polyps and small cancers can be detected and removed.  Since the patient is sedated it’s a totally painless procedure.

A colonoscopy is the most accurate way to detect polyps and since it also allows removal of those polyps found it is the preferred screening test for most patients.  You should speak with your doctor as to which type of screening test is most appropriate for you.

Third.  A major problem is that not enough people are getting their colon screened.  A recent report released from the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) states that only 65% of eligible patients are participating in some type of screening program. This percentage includes patients who are participating in one of the previously mentioned methods and not just the colonoscopy exam.  Other screening methods are better than no screening but are not as good as a colonoscopy.

Numerous studies have confirmed that colon cancer screening leads to early detection and saves lives.  The National Polyp Study showed in its surveillance program that individuals who had their polyps removed experienced a 90% reduction in the incidence of colon cancer.  The few patients in that study who did develop colon cancer had their cancers discovered at an early stage and were curable.

The National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable is an organization co-founded by the American Cancer Society and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  They are using March, National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month to raise awareness and break down barriers that prevent people from getting screened.  Their goal is an 80% screening rate for appropriate adults by the year 2018.  You can learn more about this worthy cause by visiting www.nccrt.org.

The current guidelines recommend African Americans start colon cancer screening at age 45 due to a slightly higher risk.  All others start at age 50 unless you have a family history of colon cancer or polyps and then you may need to start earlier.  Discuss this with your physician.  www.gi.org/clincal-guidelines/.

Fourth.   Remember that a screening colonoscopy can prevent colon cancer and allows early detection of existing cancers, which improves outcome and saves lives.  Make sure you, your family, friends and love ones are getting their colon screened.

James D Hakert, MD

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James Hakert, M.D.
8220 Walnut Hill Lane, Suite 710 Dallas, TX 75231
Phone: (214) 368-6707
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