Every year, nearly 60,000 Americans die from colorectal cancer. Tragically, many don't have to. When detected early, colon cancer is largely preventable. But 70% of average-risk adults still have not undergone definitive screenings, despite increased media attention (remember Katie Couric's on-air colonoscopy?). Good news: adults now have two options to detect and stop colon cancer early. Traditional and virtual colonoscopies are both proven methods for detecting colon polyps - precursors to cancerous lesions. Each method has benefits that can help people overcome the reasons they've avoided this life-saving procedure. Virtual colonoscopy is a new technique that uses CT scans to detect polyps.
Patients are not sedated, so they can drive and resume normal activities almost immediately following the 30-minute procedure. These screenings can also reveal problems in the liver, pancreas, kidneys and other abdominal organs. The non-invasiveness makes this procedure particularly beneficial for anyone medically ineligible for traditional colonoscopies. Virginia Hospital Center has been conducting virtual colonoscopies for several years, using the most advanced equipment and three-dimensional imaging techniques. This new option is perfect for anyone who avoided a screening because of sedation problems or time constraints. It takes just minutes to add years to your life.
Meanwhile, traditional colonoscopies use a camera to locate even the smallest polyps and lesions. Patients are mildly sedated, so there is little if any discomfort. Traditional colonoscopies are also comprehensive, meaning if polyps are found they can be removed immediately. "It is important that people make the decision to be screened. That's what saves lives," says Virginia Hospital Center's Chief of gastroenterology Pradeep Gupta, MD.
All adults 50 and older should be screened at least every 10 years. Anyone with a family history of colon cancer should be screened starting 10 years before the age at which cancer was detected in their relative or by age 40, whichever comes first. Consult your doctor about which screening method is best for you. For more information or to register for a virtual colonoscopy call 703.558.8500.