•  GIs recommend colonoscopy to prevent colon cancer
    March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness month

    March 4, 2010

    Colon cancer is one of the most common cancers in men and women. It is also one of the most preventable through routine cancer screenings, according to Board Certified Gastroenterologists Ajay Goel, M.D., and Michael Rosenfeld, M.D.

    It is estimated that as many as 60% of colorectal cancer deaths could be prevented if all men and women aged 50 years or older were tested, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Colonoscopy can reduce the risk of colon cancer by finding and removing growths known as polyps before they can turn into cancer.

    “Unfortunately, about half of Oneida County’s residents 50 and older have never had a colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy,” said Dr. Goel. “Understandably, they’re uncomfortable with the idea of having a small camera inserted in their rectum to explore their colon. However, the procedure doesn’t hurt and colonoscopy is the best defense we have against colon cancer.”

    “Most people admit that the advance preparation to clean out the intestines is the worst part since they are sedated during the procedure,” Dr. Rosenfeld added, explaining that various preparations are offered to patients.

    There are several tests that can be used to screen for colorectal cancer. However, colonoscopy is the most comprehensive, according to Dr. Goel. “We can explore the entire length of the colon and remove precancerous polyps at the same time,” he explained. “A sigmoidoscope allows us to view less than half of the colon.”

    For people of average risk, a colonoscopy is recommended every 10 years, if no polyps are found.

    “Other screenings, such as double-contrast barium enema and virtual colonoscopy, don’t give us the opportunity to remove suspicious tissue during testing,” Dr. Rosenfeld said. “Although virtual colonoscopies are not currently available in Rome, my patients do ask about them. They’re usually surprised to find out that they would still have to go through the traditional bowel preparation. The procedure still involves inserting a tube into the rectum in order to inflate the colon with air. And, you’re wide awake.”

    Fecal occult blood tests, which involve testing stool samples for signs that cancer may be present, is a common screening tool for early detection of cancer, but it’s not effective as a preventative measure, Dr. Goel said.

    Drs. Goel and Rosenfeld perform thousands of colonoscopies a year at Rome Memorial Hospital to protect patients against cancer. They each have more than 20 years of experience caring for patients with digestive tract problems, such as swallowing disorders, heartburn, irritable bowel syndrome, ulcers, colon cancer, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. They also treat patients with diseases of the liver and pancreas, which can impact a patient’s digestive health.

    “Our county's medical professionals have an excellent track record of treating colon cancer once it's detected,” said Dr. Goel. “Statistics show that Oneida County is in the best quartile in the state for colorectal cancer mortality. However, our goal is to save our friends and family from having to face a cancer diagnosis.”

    “If you’re 50 or older or at high risk, talk to your primary care physician about scheduling your colonoscopy,” urged Dr. Rosenfeld. “Don’t let fear or embarrassment stand in the way of protecting your health.”

    A graduate of Maulana Azad Medical College, N. Delhi, India, Dr. Goel completed his residency in psychiatry at the University of Medicine and Dentistry, Newark, NJ, and his residency in internal medicine at SUNY Downstate Medical Center, Brooklyn, where he advanced his training with a fellowship in gastroenterology. He is board certified in Gastroenterology by the American Board of Internal Medicine.

    A graduate of the Autonomous University of Guadalajara, Mexico, Dr. Rosenfeld completed his internship at the SUNY Stony Brook & Northport Veterans Department of Medicine, where he advanced his training with a residency in internal medicine and a fellowship in gastroenterology. He is board certified in Gastroenterology by the American Board of Internal Medicine.

    Located at 1617 N. James St., Rome, Drs. Goel and Rosenfeld are accepting new patients. For more information, please call 337-0539.