Colon cancer is the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in men and women in the United States, making early detection imperative for a patient’s survival. This March – Colon Cancer Awareness Month – King’s Daughters reminds the community of the importance of colon cancer screenings, which should begin at age 45 for average-risk patients.
Screening may include colonoscopy, FIT testing (fecal immunochemical test) and stool DNA testing (Cologuard), which are all covered by insurance.
FIT tests use antibodies to detect blood in the stool, which can be an early sign of cancer. The test is performed using a sample that is gathered at home. FIT testing must be performed annually and is not recommended for those at high risk.
Stool DNA testing is another at-home testing option that detects DNA markers associated with colon cancer and blood in the stool. Stool DNA testing must be performed every three years and is also not recommend for those at high risk.
Colonoscopy is the “gold standard” of colon cancer screening and is recommended every five to 10 years for those at average to low risk. During the test, a physician (usually a gastroenterologist or general surgeon) uses a long, thin, flexible, lighted tube to check for polyps or cancer inside the rectum and the entire colon. The physician can find and remove most polyps and some cancers during the exam.
King’s Daughters is pleased to now offer endoscopic ultrasound-guided fine needle aspiration—a minimally invasive procedure that uses sound waves (ultrasound) to examine the gastrointestinal tract and gather cells for biopsy — performed by King’s Daughters gastroenterologist Liege Diaz, M.D.
“EUS-FNA is an advanced endoscopic procedure that allows the physician to see organs and structures not visible during routine gastrointestinal endoscopy, including layers of the GI tract wall, the liver, pancreas, lymph nodes and bile ducts,” said Dr. Diaz.
Colorectal surgeon Gabie Ong, M.D., is available to patients whose screenings indicate the need for more invasive care, including colorectal surgery.
“I’m looking forward to collaborating with my fellow gastroenterology providers in addition to our oncology team to care for colon cancer patients through each step of their journey right here at home,” said Dr. Ong.
Dr. Ong also treats conditions and diseases of the small intestine, colon, rectum and anus including hemorrhoids, anal fissures, inflammatory bowel disease and chronic constipation. She is also trained in robotic-assisted surgery, allowing for less-invasive procedures, quicker recovery times and better overall results.
For more information or to schedule a colon cancer screening, call King’s Daughters Digestive Health at 606.408.8200. King’s Daughters also offers a free online Colon Cancer Risk Assessment at KingsDaughtersHealth.com/HRA to help patients evaluate their personal risk for colon cancer.