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Rapid City Medical Center’s Team of Board-Certified Gastroenterologists Remind Community of Colon Cancer Awareness and the Importance of Preventive Screening

Mar 09, 2021 09:45AM ● By Med Magazine

The Gastroenterology Department at Rapid City Medical Center reminds the public that March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month.  

The current recommendations from the American Cancer Society and the United States Preventive Services Task force are for healthy people with no signs or symptoms and no family history of colon  cancer is to begin screening at age 45. 

When colon cancer is found in its early stages, there is a greater chance of cure and the risk of death from colon cancer is reduced. Colonoscopy is unique in that it can both detect and prevent cancer by finding  and removing pre-cancerous polyps. Indeed, the American Cancer Society distinguishes colonoscopy as a cancer prevention test, while other screening tests are cancer detection tests. There are several  screening options available and it is important for you to discuss your options with your doctor to  determine which one is the most appropriate for you. 

Stool-based screening tests such as Cologuard and Hemoccult are usually not appropriate for those with a  family history of colon cancer; a personal history of polyps or colon cancer; signs or symptoms such as  bleeding, abdominal pain, anemia; or a history of inflammatory bowel disease. Also, if a stool-based test  is positive, this requires a follow up examination with a colonoscopy which is then considered diagnostic  rather than screening, and may not be covered as well by insurance.  

Gastroenterologists are board-certified specialists certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine  who undergo extensive and rigorous training to gain expertise in endoscopic therapy (EGD, colonoscopy,  ERCP, EUS). This requires at least three years of additional specialty fellowship training, which focuses  specifically on performing diagnostic and therapeutic endoscopy on a daily basis. By the end of their  training, gastroenterologists will have completed several hundred to several thousand endoscopic  procedures. There is literature that shows better outcomes when endoscopy is performed by a  gastroenterologist compared to a non-gastroenterologist. Colonoscopy is well-known to be associated  with a reduced risk of death from colorectal cancer, and that association is strongest if the colonoscopy is  performed by a licensed gastroenterologist.  

Our gastroenterologists hold themselves to a high standard for patient outcomes, efficiency, and quality  of care. National quality metrics are used to gauge these measures, and RCMC Gastroenterology  publishes their quality data on their website for all to see. The Endoscopy Center at RCMC has been  recognized by the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy for its commitment to quality through  the Endoscopy Unit Recognition Program, the only endoscopy unit in western South Dakota to have this  distinction. Multiple studies have shown that these quality metrics can predict better patient outcomes,  lower rates of colon cancer, lower patient costs, decrease morbidity/mortality, and improve patients’ quality of life. This translates into quality patient care. Do you know your physicians’ polyp detection,  colonoscopy completion, and complication rates? 

The Gastroenterologists at Rapid City Medical Center are the area’s only specialists focusing specifically  on high quality colonoscopy and carry the highest quality standards in the Black Hills. When scheduling  your colonoscopy or other endoscopic evaluation, request that your referring provider send you to a  board-certified gastroenterologist.