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Colonoscopy, the Complete Exam for Colorectal Cancer

        If more people underwent routine screening to find small polyps, experts estimate that the death toll for colorectal cancer would drop 50 to 75 percent, saving around 30,000 to 40,000 lives each year.

        "Colorectal Cancer is a disease that almost no one needs to die from", stated Dr. Nayan Shah, board certified gastroenterologist at Marian Community Hospital, "provided that it is caught in its earliest, most treatable stages. Colorectal cancer is curable in more than 90 percent of the time." While not every polyp is cancerous, most colon cancers begin as a polyp. The removal of pre cancerous polyps from the colon removes the potential for colorectal cancer as well.

       Polyps are tiny grape-like projections that sprout on the inside of the colon and large intestine. These polyps have the potential to grow and become cancerous tumors. While age 50 has been determined as the starting date to begin colorectal testing, a family history or other symptoms may necessitate screenings at age 30 or 40.

       The most complete examination for colorectal cancer is colonoscopy.  During a colonoscopy, the entire length of the large intestine, beginning with the rectum and ending at the beginning of the small bowel is examined. The gastroenterologist or physician uses lighted scopes that serve as the conduit for microscopic instruments and video equipment. A miniature video camera attached to the endoscope affords the physician the opportunity to see inside the colon on a video screen and to photograph specific areas of concern. While watching the screen, the physician is able to perform the procedure. The physician may employ different tools through the scope to remove polyps. This process is generally repeated within a period of five years to check for reoccurrence.

        Colonoscopy is a painless procedure. Conscious sedation is administered by a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist, by a qualified Registered Nurse, or by the physician performing the procedure. In addition, nurses and technicians monitor the cardiac functions, blood pressure and continuous usage of oxygen. Preparation for colonoscopy is now available in liquid and pill form. The availability of the preparation in pill form may remove the barrier for many to having this testing done. For more information about colonoscopy, call the GI Lab at Marian Community Hospital, 281-1085.

        Dr. Nayan Shah, Board Certified Gastroenterologist, is the Director of Gastroenterology at Marian Community Hospital. Dr. Shah practices in association with Dr. Mohammed Chowdhury at 141 Salem Avenue, Carbondale, (570) 282-6100. He is an Active Medical Staff Member and practices at Marian Community Hospital. He completed his fellowship in gastroenterology at Albany Medical College, Albany, NY.

        At Marian Community Hospital, Dr. Shah performs endoscopic procedures of the upper and lower digestive tract. Included in these procedures are: gastroscopy, dilation, colonoscopy, sigmoidoscopy, and Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangio Pancreatography (ERCP).

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