A little more than half of the people in Nebraska who should be getting colonoscopies actually do.
“There are things we know we can do something about early: prostate cancer, breast cancer, blood sugar control, and colon cancer,” said Grant Hutchins, MD, gastroenterologist at The Nebraska Medical Center. “These are things in which we know we can make a difference early and can prevent a lot of mortality down the road.”
Dr. Hutchins and Gary Volentine, MD will see patients at a new endoscopy center opening this week at Village Pointe Medical Center near 180th and West Dodge Road in Omaha. Both physicians will begin seeing patients Friday, Sept. 7.
The center’s opening comes at a time when there is a renewed push across Nebraska to educate people about the importance of colonoscopy screening and colon cancer prevention. Colonoscopy is very effective at finding polyps and pre-cancerous lesions in the colon.
“The cure rate for colon cancer is excellent – if it’s found early.” Dr. Hutchins said. “It’s the people who don’t get screened when they’re young or have symptoms that they ignore, that unfortunately present later with disease that has spread to a lot of places.”
Dr. Hutchins recommends most people begin regular screenings at age 50. He advises others, including African Americans and those with a family history of colorectal cancer to begin screening at age 40. If there is a family history of colorectal cancer, the first colonoscopy should be performed ten years before the age that a person’s first-degree relative (parent or sibling) was diagnosed.
Dr. Hutchins advises people to ask their family doctor when they should begin screenings and to tell their doctor about any colon cancer symptoms such as a change in bowel habits or blood in the stool.
“We know people aren’t exactly clamoring for colonoscopies,” Dr. Hutchins said. “But it’s not a painful procedure. It is uncomfortable, but it’s not painful. And it is very important and very effective. We hope this new center will give patients more options to have their screenings done closer to home.”
Patients often have questions about the need for colonoscopies and what it takes to prepare for the screening. Dr. Hutchins answers many of those questions in a short video posted on The Nebraska Medical Center’s YouTube channel.