ASGE: Screening Can Help Stop Colorectal Cancer Before It Starts

March Is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

OAK BROOK, IL--(Marketwire - February 28, 2011) - March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month and the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy (ASGE), representing the doctors who specialize in colorectal cancer screening, is encouraging people to talk with their doctor about getting screened if they are age 50 and over. Colorectal cancer, also referred to as colon cancer, is one of the most preventable cancers because the majority of colorectal cancers arise from precancerous growths in the colon called polyps, which can be found during a screening exam and removed before they turn into cancer.

Colorectal cancer is considered a silent killer because often there are no symptoms until it is too late to treat. Age is the single most important risk factor for the disease, so even people who lead a healthy lifestyle can still develop polyps and cancer. Both men and women are affected by colorectal cancer equally. The ASGE recommends screening begin at age 50; sooner if there is a family history of polyps, colorectal cancer or other risk factors. Some experts suggest that African-Americans should begin screening at age 45.

A 2009 report showed that from 1975 to 2000, the rates of people diagnosed with colorectal cancer dropped 22 percent and death rates decreased 26 percent. This decline reflects the impact of increased screening, changes in lifestyle and diet, and improved treatments.

While these numbers are encouraging, colorectal cancer takes the lives of more than 50,000 people a year in the United States. Screening methods include colonoscopy, sigmoidoscopy, stool blood tests such as fecal occult blood test (FOBT) or fecal immunochemical test (FIT), stool DNA, CT colonography (virtual colonoscopy), and barium enema.

"Screening should begin at age 50, but speak with your doctor to determine if you have any risk factors and need to begin screening sooner. If you experience any symptoms, such as bleeding or unexplained abdominal pain, talk to your doctor immediately," said M. Brian Fennerty, MD, FASGE, president, American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy. "The ASGE recommends colonoscopy screening for its ability to identify and remove polyps during the same procedure. Colonoscopy is safe, effective and well-tolerated, and can potentially save your life. Colorectal cancer runs in families, so if you do have a polyp or cancer diagnosed during your screening exam, be sure to tell your family members to discuss screening with their doctor."

Colonoscopy is considered the preferred screening test because it is a preventive exam: it is the only test that both finds and removes precancerous polyps during the same exam. With the other methods, if a polyp is found, that test must then be followed by a colonoscopy to remove the polyp. A person at average risk with normal colonoscopy results won't need another exam for 10 years. Should a polyp or cancer be found, screening intervals may be more frequent.

For more information on colorectal cancer prevention and to find a doctor, log on to ASGE's colorectal cancer awareness website The site offers visitors a wealth of vital information including facts about colorectal cancer, screening options, what to expect during a colonoscopy, answers to frequently asked questions, the latest news about colorectal cancer, such as studies and statistics, links to patient support and advocacy groups, educational videos, and e-Cards.

Join ASGE's "Peter and Polly Polyp" Facebook page and spread the word to your friends about colorectal cancer prevention. Colorectal cancer is preventable, treatable and beatable!

About the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy
Since its founding in 1941, the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy (ASGE) has been dedicated to advancing patient care and digestive health by promoting excellence in gastrointestinal endoscopy. ASGE, with nearly 12,000 members worldwide, promotes the highest standards for endoscopic training and practice, fosters endoscopic research, recognizes distinguished contributions to endoscopy, and is the foremost resource for endoscopic education. Visit and for more information and to find a qualified doctor in your area.

About Endoscopy
Endoscopy is performed by specially-trained physicians called endoscopists using the most current technology to diagnose and treat diseases of the gastrointestinal tract. Using flexible, thin tubes called endoscopes, endoscopists are able to access the human digestive tract without incisions via natural orifices. Endoscopes are designed with high-intensity lighting and fitted with precision devices that allow viewing and treatment of the gastrointestinal system. 

To view this release in a media-rich format, go to:

Contact Information:

Media Contact:
American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy
Anne Brownsey
(630) 570-5635