Colorectal Cancers

Age 50 and older: Have you had a baseline colonoscopy?

Combating Colorectal Cancer

St. Vincent Gastroenterologists explain the importance of when and why to get a screening colonoscopy as a key step in preventing colorectal cancer (CRC). Colonoscopy is an outpatient procedure that examines the entire length of the colon and is a proven method to combat CRC.

When diagnosed with colorectal cancer or any GI malignancy, your cancer care physician is part of the St. Vincent GI Multi-disciplinary Cancer Conference Committee. This gives an extended benefit to patients (much like a second opinion). These physicians review complex and challenging cases and discuss how best to treat the many types of GI cancers: gastric, colon, rectal, liver, gallbladder, pancreas and esophageal cancer.

Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the most common type of GI cancer diagnosed in Indiana.That is why St. Vincent physicians encourage men and women 50 years and older to have a baseline colonoscopy. This outpatient test is the gold standard for detecting CRC; and as a cancer prevention test, can eliminate 80-90% of colon cancers.

Some adults are at higher risk for colon cancer because of their family history for cancer. If you have a family member who had pre-cancerous polyps or confirmed CRC before the age of 50, your risk for CRC increases dramatically. Our Genetic Cancer Risk Assessment Counselors have tests and services for high-risk adults. A colonoscopy at age 40 years of age or earlier may be advised by your physician for high-risk patients.

St. Vincent Primary Care physicians are on the front line for CRC detection and also use fecal blood tests as an annual screening test, but these tests need to be done annually and involve at-home testing and attention to detail. At your next annual physical, talk to your physician about your risk factors for developing CRC or any type of cancer.

Colorectal Cancer

When pre-cancerous polyps and lesions are detected early, the surgeon can often remove the polyps as part of the colonoscopy procedure. Early-stage CRC is very curable and has very good outcomes. That is why it's important to talk to your primary care physician about your cancer risk factors.

The major signs and symptoms of CRC are unexplained fevers, pain in the abdomen and GI problems that last 2 or more weeks, and blood in your stool. 

St. Vincent certified gastroenterologists at the Indianapolis Nabb Rd. and Carmel Endoscopy Surgery Centers diagnose and treat CRC. A colonoscopy procedure is the gold standard and our GI surgeons utilize high definition scopes that are associated with better polyp detection.

Depending on the individual other procedures may be advised such as a virtual colonoscopy radiology procedure, a double-contrast enema to identify smaller lesions, fecal blood tests, and stool DNA tests.

Follow-up treatment is dependent on the stage and type of cancerous lesion. The St. Vincent medical oncologists and radiation oncologists work closely with the GI surgeons utilizing world-class cancer treatment protocols and technology to combat all types of GI cancers.

The DaVinci Robot used in surgery is a step above traditional laparoscopic surgery. St. Vincent GI surgeons are highly trained to use the robotic technology to make fine movements when surgically removing a tumor that impedes a nerve in the pelvic area and preserve bowel and sexual function. Nearly 90% of the GI oncology surgeries involve minimally invasive surgical techniques. To learn more about gastroenterology terminology refer to the online St. Vincent Health Information library.