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    Screening & Prevention: Colorectal Cancer

    In the last decade, colonoscopy has come into widespread use in the United States. Colonoscopies are used to detect precancerous polyps and colorectal cancer. They can also help gastroenterologists evaluate changes in bowel habits, abdominal pain, anal bleeding and weight loss. Because of this successful intervention, precancerous polyps can be detected and removed early, thereby decreasing the incidence of colon cancer. Colorectal cancer screening accounts for 40% of clinical activity in the PAMF gastroenterology departments.

    Adults who are age 50 or older should be screened every 10 years for colon cancer with a colonoscopy. Individuals with a family history of colon cancer or colon polyps with an onset before age 60 may be referred for screening at an earlier age or be screened more frequently. PAMF’s colorectal screening rate of unique patients age 50 to 75 was 74%. The national screening rate for the same period was near 50% (Figure 3).

    For this exceptional record, PAMF has been consistently awarded the Integrated Healthcare Association’s Top Performers designation.

    Figure 3. PERCENT OF ADULTS 50 TO 75 YEARS OF AGE RECEIVING COLORECTAL CANCER SCREENING VS. THE NATIONAL BENCHMARK
    Figure represents the percent of adults 50-75 years of age receiving colorectal cancer screening vs. the national benchmark, with 74% of PAMF patients receiving screening vs. 50% the national benchmark.

    Other commonly diagnosed gastrointestinal (GI) malignancies include rectal, pancreatic, esophageal, gastric and liver cancers. Our GI cancer diagnoses from 2007 to 2011 are shown in Figure 4. The number of pancreatic cancer cases increased by 750% from 2007 through 2011. This trend is explained by increased awareness and use of endoscopic ultrasound, an innovative technology for the diagnosis of pancreatic disorders. Our proficiency with this procedure attracts numerous external referrals to PAMF.

    FIGURE 4
    CANCER DIAGNOSIS IN GASTROENTEROLOGY DEPARTMENTS, 2007-2011*

    Figure represents different kinds of cancer diagnosed in gastroenterology departments between 2007 & 2011, Colon cancer being the most diagnosed, followed by pancreatic, rectal, stomach, esophageal, liver, gallbladder, small intestine, peritoneum, & other digestive. The number of pancreatic cancer cases increased by 750% from 2007 to 2011.