March 23, 2021

Take Steps to Prevent Colon Cancer

Why a Colonoscopy is so Important

One of the most effective ways to detect colon cancer is to undergo a colonoscopy. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, many people have avoided going to a hospital or surgery center for their colon screening, which may now lead to increased incidence of colon cancer.

“The advantage of colonoscopy is high sensitivity for cancer and all classes of precancerous polyps, which are small growths on the lining of the intestine,” said Dr. Ahmad Farooq, a board-certified gastroenterologist with St. Joseph Medical Center. “Studies have shown that colonoscopy decreases deaths from colon cancers from 60-80% when compared to individuals who do not receive it. At Steward, we perform high quality colonoscopies, and we maintain our quality metrics to ensure excellent care is being provided to patients.”

According to Dr. Farooq, colon cancer screening should begin at the age of 50, however African Americans should get their first colonoscopy at the age of 45. And, despite the pandemic, he strongly recommends people undergo their colon cancer screenings. Once a patient has had their first screening colonoscopy, they should be screened again at 10 year intervals, unless a polyp is found in which case their gastroenterologist may recommend a repeat colonoscopy in 3-5 years.

“We take extreme precautions; patients’ safety is our first priority,” he says. “We make sure patients get their colonoscopy in the safest environment.”

The incidence of colon cancer is slightly higher in males compared to females, says Dr. Farooq. African Americans have the highest incidence and mortality rates of colorectal cancer (CRC) of any ethnic group in the United States. Although some of these disparities can be explained by differences in access to care, cancer screening, and other socioeconomic factors, disparities remain after adjustment for these factors, he added. Because of that, new guidelines suggest African Americans start getting their colon cancer screening early at the age of 45.

What’s New in Treatment of Colon Cancer?

For those who have colon cancer, ongoing research holds promise for new ways of treating the disease. “The treatment varies from simple colonoscopy-based resection of cancer versus surgery to aggressive chemotherapy and immune therapy. Treatment is dependent on the stage of cancer. New drugs are also being developed and studied,” Dr. Farooq added.

Tips to Improve Colon Health

  • Get your colonoscopy
  • Follow preventive measures
  • Eat healthy with a diet enriched with fruits and vegetables
  • Maintain a healthy weight, avoid smoking, and minimize alcohol use

Take time for your colon health. If you need to schedule a colonoscopy for yourself or a family member you can schedule an appointment with Dr. Farooq today by visiting,