Early detection is the key to beating colorectal cancer
Nationwide, colorectal cancer affects 132,700 people annually, causing 49,700 deaths (National Cancer Institute, 2015). Polypectomy (the removal of polyps in the colon), usually performed during a routine diagnostic test (colonscopy or flexible sigmoidoscopy), has been a factor in the declining incidence of this cancer.
However, incidence of the disease, as reported on the National Cancer Institute (NCI SEER, 2008-2012), differed among ethnic groups. African American men have the highest risk with 63.8 cases per 100,000; white men have the second highest incidence rate with 50.9 per 100,000. African American women are third with 47.6 cases per 100,000, followed by Hispanic men with a rate of 47.3. White women have a rate of 38.6 and Hispanic women have a rate of 32.6 per 100,000.
Early diagnosis is extremely important to good outcomes in colorectal cancer. Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of death due to cancer, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, survival rates are nearly 90 percent when the cancer is diagnosed early.
Dr. Jan Rakinic, director of colorectal surgery at Southern Illinois University School of Medicine said, “Early diagnosis is extremely important to good outcomes in colorectal cancer. Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of death due to cancer, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, survival rates are nearly 90 percent when the cancer is diagnosed early.”
Illinois has the 5th highest colorectal cancer incidence rate -- 15.5% higher than the average US rate. Yet Illinois is 36th in the nation for screening prevalence among adults age 50 and older, according to the American Cancer Society, Colorectal Cancer Facts and Figures, 2014-16.
Dr. Rakinic and Dr. Prasad Poola, assistant professor of colorectal surgery, both provide fast track colonoscopies where patients don’t have to be seen or referred by their physician to get a colonoscopy. Both are members of Simmons Cancer Institute at SIU.
Patients who are 50 years of age or older, in good health, with good blood pressure levels and no diagnosis of diabetes, can be scheduled for the procedure without first seeing a primary care physician or GI specialist.
Appointments for a fast-track colonoscopy can be made by calling 217-545-2538. Patients who need a physician’s referral for the procedure should contact their primary care physician.
Colonoscopies are considered the ‘gold standard for detecting colorectal cancer. The procedure is scheduled at either hospital in Springfield – Memorial Medical Center or HSHS St. John’s Hospital. Results of the screening will be provided after the procedure and shared with a patient’s primary care physician.
80% Screened by 2018
The 80% by 2018 pledge, a shared goal of the National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable and the American Cancer Society was signed by representatives of SIU School of Medicine’s Division of Colorectal Surgery, the Department of Family and Community Medicine, Simmons Cancer Institute at SIU, and Gastrointestinal Oncology. Dr. Rakinic, signed the pledge as the director of colorectal surgery.
The 80% by 2018 pledge demonstrates the commitment of SIU SOM physicians and surgeons to screening for colorectal cancer which can include colonoscopy, sigmoidoscopy, or home-based fecal occult blood tests which can indicate blood in a person’s stool. Though the kits are not a specific test for colon cancer, they can detect the presence of blood, which can be an indicator of several different medical conditions.
Regularly scheduled screenings in the form of colonoscopies can prevent cancer from developing if precancerous polyps are detected and removed before they become cancer. Regular screenings can also find cancer in its earliest stages when it can be treated.