The MSV is appealing to every physician – especially gastroenterologists and primary care physicians – to support ASGE’s effort to educate patients about the risks associated with colorectal cancer and the life-saving screening options that are available to them.
ASGE President Douglas Rex, MD, MASGE, explains, “More than 30 percent of U.S. adults aren’t getting screened for colon cancer and it’s a disease that has a 90 percent survival rate when detected early. Further, most cancers can be prevented through polyp removal at colonoscopy. So, this campaign will save many lives.”
Dr. Rex also stresses that, “It is crucial for physicians to help their patients understand which colorectal cancer screening option is appropriate for them, keeping in mind that this can vary for each individual based on their history and risk factors.”
Today, colorectal cancer screening is recommended to begin at 45 years of age. Screening options include:
- fecal immunochemical test (FIT)
- MT-sDNA (Cologuard)
Dr. Rex says, “Colonoscopy can be used to screen high- and average-risk patients, meaning patients with no history of precancerous colorectal polyps or cancer, or who have no symptoms. For those who have had previous colorectal cancer or precancerous polyps, then surveillance colonoscopy is the only appropriate tool to monitor the patient and prevent cancer. The same is true for patients with colorectal symptoms, who should only be evaluated by colonoscopy.”
He adds, “For asymptomatic average-risk patients undergoing screening, stool tests are also appropriate options for screening. Average-risk means that age is the only risk factor, and particularly when there is no strong family history of colorectal cancer. For such patients, FIT and MT-sDNA tests can also be used for screening and are an alternative to colonoscopy. These tests aren’t appropriate options for high-risk screening patients, surveillance patients who have a history of adenomatous polyps, sessile serrated polyps or colorectal cancer, or symptomatic patients.”
The ASGE recommends that patients of any age who are exhibiting symptoms (e.g., rectal bleeding, anemia, a change in bowel habits, persistent abdominal pain, or unintentional weight loss) or who are high-risk (e.g., they’ve had a pre-cancerous colorectal polyp or colorectal cancer) or whose family has a strong history of colorectal cancer should talk to their gastroenterologist or primary care physician about the need for colonoscopy.