Colorectal Diseases

NewYork-Presbyterian

Colorectal Cancer Screening

Colonoscopy from New York's Top Doctors

Find Colorectal Cancer Early, When It Is Most Curable

Colorectal cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer and the third leading cause of cancer death among men and women in the United States. It is increasingly being diagnosed in people under age 50, prompting experts to revise guidelines to recommend screening starting at age 45. The good news is that colorectal cancer is a preventable disease. Screening for colorectal cancer can help doctors find colon and rectal cancers earlier when they are easiest to treat and may even be curable. There are several tests available for colorectal cancer screening. At NewYork-Presbyterian, we make getting colorectal cancer screening easy, with preparations and processes that are convenient and streamlined. We provide colonoscopies at a variety of locations in the New York metropolitan area. Stool-based tests for screening are also available.

Are you at risk for colorectal cancer?

The following factors have been linked to an increased risk of colorectal cancer:

  • Personal history of colon polyps
  • Family history of colorectal cancer or colon polyps
  • Personal history of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), such as Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis
  • Personal or family history of a genetic cancer syndrome, such as Lynch syndrome or familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP)

The American Cancer Society recommends that everyone start colorectal cancer screening at age 45. If you have a family history of colon cancer or rectal cancer, it is recommended you begin screening for colorectal cancer at age 40 or 10 years before the age at which your family member was diagnosed, whichever comes first. Speak with your doctor about your personal level of risk and when it is best to begin colorectal cancer screening. Check with your insurance company about your coverage.

Screening Tests for Colorectal Cancer

Colonoscopy uses a flexible, lighted tube to look at the inside of your colon. This procedure is done with sedation, so there is no discomfort during the procedure. The doctor can remove potentially precancerous colon polyps and collect tissue samples (biopsy) for closer examination.

Frequency

Once every 10 years (more frequently in people who had an abnormal test and those at increased risk of colorectal cancer)

Pro

Only colonoscopy allows for the detection and removal of potentially precancerous polyps—before they can grow into cancer—and the identification of early cancers during a single examination of the entire colon.

NewYork-Presbyterian has simplified the process for getting a colonoscopy. Many people can schedule a colonoscopy directly, without having a pre-procedure doctor visit. To find out if you qualify, you can complete a questionnaire over the phone. Depending on your personal history, we will let you know if you need to come see the doctor first. Due to this more efficient process, you can usually obtain an appointment within 1-2 weeks at some of our locations.

Con

You will need to complete a bowel preparation to clean all of the stool out of your colon prior to the procedure. This process can be unpleasant. The test requires sedation and the need to be escorted home.

Stool-based tests are non-invasive colorectal cancer screening tests that check your stool for microscopic traces of blood or abnormal DNA markers that are associated with colorectal cancer. There are two stool-based tests: fecal immunochemical test (FIT), which looks for blood in the stool, and Cologuard, which looks for blood and abnormal DNA markers in the stool.

Stool-based tests are non-invasive colorectal cancer screening tests that check your stool for microscopic traces of blood or abnormal DNA markers that are associated with colorectal cancer. There are two stool-based tests: fecal immunochemical test (FIT), which looks for blood in the stool, and Cologuard, which looks for blood and abnormal DNA markers in the stool.

Frequency

Negative or normal stool-based tests need to be repeated every 1-3 years.

Pro

These tests can be done at home and do not require a bowel preparation or sedation. They can help to detect colorectal cancer at an early stage, when it is easier to treat and potentially cure.

Con

These tests cannot prevent colorectal cancer, since polyps are not removed. If a stool-based screening test is positive, you will need to have a colonoscopy for further evaluation.

The Importance of Colon Cancer Screening

The American Cancer Society recommends colon cancer screening beginning as young as age 45 for men and women. Dr. Betesh explores why colon cancer screening is important for overall health, the types of colon cancer screenings available to patients and how they to decide which one is right for you.

Tips for Preparing for Your Colonoscopy

Your doctor will tell you what you need to do to prepare for your colonoscopy. There are several preparation regimens to completely cleanse your colon and rectum so the doctor can clearly see the lining of the colon. Here is what you can expect:

  • For the few days leading up to your colonoscopy, you will be modifying your diet. This will involve restricting high-residue/high-fiber foods such as seeds, nuts, and corn, as well as raw fruits and vegetables.
  • The day before your colonoscopy, you will restrict your diet to clear liquids only. Clear liquids include white grape juice, non-red or non-orange sports drinks, clear chicken broth, and ginger ale. Get these fluids ahead of time.
  • The evening before and on the morning of the colonoscopy, you will drink a laxative solution to flush all of the stool out of your colon.
    • If you become nauseated as you consume the preparation, it is okay to slow down.
    • Refrigerating the preparation solution and drinking through a straw may help if you do not like its taste.
    • Stay close to your bathroom as you can expect to make frequent visits as you clear your bowels. Be sure to have enough toilet paper on hand. The preparation process will likely take several hours.

What to Expect During a Colonoscopy

On the day of the colonoscopy, you will spend about 3-4 hours with us. When you arrive, you will change into a hospital gown, have an IV placed in your arm, and meet the team of doctors and nurses. During the colonoscopy, you will be sedated using an intravenous anesthetic, such as propofol. This ensures that you have no discomfort during the procedure. Many people describe it as the ”best nap of their life.” You will be asleep during the entire procedure and gently awakened when it is over. You will recover from the procedure for about an hour before going home.

Your doctor will let you know the initial findings of your colonoscopy on the day of the procedure. It can take 1-2 weeks to get the results of any biopsies taken of polyps removed. You will need to have someone who can meet you in the hospital to escort you home. If you do not have a friend or family member who can do this, we can connect you with a service that can help.

Colonoscopy Preparation

Doctors at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, New York’s #1 hospital, offer advice on how to prepare for a colonoscopy and what to expect during the screening.

Why Choose Us

NewYork-Presbyterian offers colonoscopies at a number of convenient locations in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Westchester, and the Hudson Valley, so you can arrange to get the test close to where you live. If screening results show you need further testing, we offer all of the care you need, provided by multidisciplinary teams of colorectal cancer experts. Call us today to make an appointment.

Our Locations

Colorectal cancer screening is offered at:


NewYork-Presbyterian Columbia University Irving Medical Center

NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center

NewYork-Presbyterian David H. Koch Center

NewYork-Presbyterian Lower Manhattan Hospital

NewYork-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital

NewYork-Presbyterian Medical Group Hudson Valley

Digestive Health Center

914-739-2400 Cortlandt Manor