Digestive system involves multiple organs that can be affected by cancer. GI system is susceptible for more cancers than any other parts of the body, making prevention, early detection and effective treatments all that more important in achieving good outcomes for our patients.
Dr. Shailaja Behara has expertise in diagnosing and providing treatment options for many types of GI cancers including bile duct cancer, colon cancer, esophageal cancer, gallbladder cancer, pancreatic cancer. She works closely with advanced therapeutic endoscopists, cancer surgeons, oncologists, interventional radiologists, radiation oncologists and other cancer experts in providing collaborative care and developing personalized treatment plan for patients with GI cancer.
Services for GI cancer screening and prevention include:
-Esophageal cancer prevention
-Colon cancer screening and prevention
-Direct access endoscopy(DAE) for qualified patients.
Colorectal Cancer Screening
Dr. Shailaja Behara, who commonly screens for colon cancer, states that the key to survival is prevention or treatment at an early stage.
She provides highly personalized and comprehensive care for her patients, and these are some of the questions which could save your life (or the life of someone you love).
Colorectal cancer is:
Most colorectal cancers begin as a polyp, a growth in the tissue that lines the inner surface of the colon or rectum. Polyps may be flat, or they may be raised. Raised polyps may grow on the inner surface of the colon or rectum like mushrooms without a stalk (sessile polyps), or they may grow like age, and most are not cancer. However, a certain type of polyp known as an adenoma may have a higher risk of becoming a cancer.
Colorectal cancer is the third most common type of non-skin cancer in both men (after prostate cancer and lung cancer) and women (After breast and lung cancer). It is the second leading cause of cancer death in the United States after lung cancer. In 2016, an estimated 134,490 people in the United States will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer and 49,190 people will die from it.
What methods are used to screen people for colorectal cancer?
Expert medical groups, including the U.S. Preventative Services strongly recommend screening for colorectal cancer. Although minor details of the recommendations may vary, these groups generally recommend that people at average risk of colorectal cancer get screened at regular intervals beginning at age 50 years. The USPSTF recommends that screening continue to:
Sigmoidoscopy: Experts generally recommend sigmoidoscopy every 5 years with or without gFOBT or FIT every 3 years for people at average risk who have had negative test results.
Standard (or optical) colonoscopy: Experts recommend colonoscopy every 10 years for people at average risk as long as their test results are negative.
Virtual colonoscopy: This screening method, also called computed tomographic (CT) colonography, uses special x-ray equipment (a CT scanner) to produce a series of pictures of the colon and the rectum from outside the body. However, if polyps or other abnormal growths are found during a virtual colonoscopy, a standard colonoscopy is usually performed to remove them. Whether virtual colonoscopy can help reduce deaths from colorectal cancer is not yet known, and Medicare and some insurance companies currently do not pay for the costs of this procedure. Studies are ongoing to compare virtual colonoscopy with other screening methods.
Double-contrast barium enema: rarely used for screening because it is less sensitive than colonoscopy in detecting small polyps and cancers. However, it may be used for people who cannot undergo standard colonoscopy—for example, because they are at particular risk for complications.
Single-specimen guaiac FOBT done in a doctor's office: doctors sometimes perform a single-specimen guaiac FOBT on a stool sample collected during a digital rectal examination as part of a routine physical examination. However, this approach has not been shown to be an effective way to screen for colorectal cancer.
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Questions for Your Doctor
Click here for the Q&A page regarding additional information relating to Colorectal Cancer Screening.
What is Cologuard, how does it work?
You may have recently heard about a new colon cancer test called Cologuard that is being used at many Gastroenterology practices throughout the US. Cologuard is particularly useful for people who are afraid of the colonoscopy procedure or have difficulty tolerating the colonoscopy preparation; however, they must meet eligibility requirements.
Cologuard is a noninvasive colon cancer screening test for adults 50 years or older who are at average risk for colon cancer. It is important to understand that Cologuard detects cancerous cells but does not provide any preventive measures such as polyp detection that could progress into cancer over time. Cologuard uses advanced technology to find altered DNA from abnormal cells in the colon, which could be associated with cancer or pre-cancer and does not require any special preparation. To complete the test your physician will send you home with a Cologuard testing kit where you collect a single stool sample and mail it to a lab using a pre-paid envelope for testing. Once completed, your doctor will contact you to discuss the results.
Is Cologuard right for you?
As previously mentioned, Cologuard is not for everyone. To be eligible you must NOT have a history of ANY points mentioned below:
No personal history of colon cancer, polyps, or other related cancers.
No family history of colon cancer.
No positive result for another screening method in the last six months.
Not diagnosed with a condition that places you at high risk for colon cancer. These include but are not limited to: Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Chronic ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, Familial adenomatous polyposis.
Not diagnosed with a relevant cancer syndrome passed on from your family, such as Hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer syndrome, Peutz-Jeghers Syndrome, MYH-Associated Polyposis, Gardner’s syndrome, Turcot’s (or Crail’s) syndrome, Cowden’s syndrome, Juvenile Polyposis, Cronkhite-Canada syndrome, Neurofibromatosis, or Familial Hyperplastic Polyposis.
Dr. Behara prefers to use the colonoscopy procedure due to its high success rate in detecting cancerous cells in the colon without eliminating patients due to family history and illness, and goes one step further in detecting cancerous cells and polyps in the colon.