Local Providers Share Importance of Preventative Screening

As the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States, colon cancer remains at the forefront of our minds year-round as new individuals and thus relatives and friends are affected by the devastating news of this disease every year. Yet, hope remains in the fact that colon cancer statistically is at the top of the list when it comes to most preventable and treatable cancers.

Eberechi Ekechukwu, MD, Family Medicine Physician at Avera Medical Group Sibley shares that routine colonoscopies beginning at the age of 50, and sometimes earlier if family history of colon cancer is evident, can largely prevent colon cancer. “Detection of colon cancer in the earliest stages is critical to prevention and early treatment. Looking for and removing polyps, which are small growths sometimes indicative of pre-cancer or cancer, are most advantageous to find in the early stages of the disease.”

Colonoscopies are highly efficient in accurate diagnosis and treatment, in many cases preventing the need for more invasive colon surgery. During a colonoscopy, a patient is sedated in order to be more comfortable. Most patients don’t even remember the procedure after waking up. The procedure itself usually takes 30 to 60 minutes, and involves a rectal colonoscopy advanced through the large intestine to detect any abnormalities in the colon. Any polyps or amounts of tissue which raise any concern for the surgeon are removed during the procedure and sent directly for a biopsy.

“When an individual skips a routine colonoscopy, especially with a family history of colon cancer, or has recent signs of colon cancer such as persistent abdominal discomfort, change of stools including blood in the stool, cramps and gas pain or constipation, the risk of potential colon cancer is increased,” Gregory Kosters, DO, Family Medicine Physician at Avera Medical Group Sibley adds. “Avoiding colon cancer is most successful when patients get their colonoscopies routinely and never take the chance to skip.”

Community members interested in receiving their colonoscopy should consult their primary care provider at Avera Medical Group Sibley by calling 712-754-3658 and inquire about their age, risk factors, and family history. Referred colonoscopies can be scheduled directly at Osceola Regional Health Center by calling Central Scheduling at 712-754-5304.