Colon cancer and women

Drs. Kakkar (L) and Blanton (R) are gastroenterologists at Tufts Medical Center Community Care.

Colon cancer can strike both men and women equally and is still the second leading cause of cancer deaths among cancers that affect both men and women.

Colon cancer is caused by the growth of polyps – small masses of cells – in the rectum or colon. Though these growths start as benign (noncancerous), they can develop into cancerous tumors over time. Colonoscopy is the most effective form of preventing colon cancer because if a polyp is discovered during the colonoscopy, it can be removed on the spot.

Although the overall colon cancer mortality rate is slightly higher for men, we see that some proximal polyps (those on the right side of the colon) are more prevalent in women. The most effective screening for colon cancer is a colonoscopy, which will pick up those proximal polyps, where other tools, such as sigmoidoscopy, which only allows views of parts of the colon, may miss them.

Colon cancer is the third most diagnosed cancer. It is a very common cancer, but it is also one of the few cancers that can be prevented and treated when found early.

Our gastroenterology team has been recognized for making colonoscopy easy. GI navigators start the process by taking care of scheduling and making sure that you have transportation to and from your colonoscopy. They will answer any questions you may have and will help to debunk some of the common myths about colonoscopy.

Many patients complain about the “prep” solution that needs to be taken the day before a colonoscopy, and some simply can’t tolerate the mixture. We have found ways to make some simple changes to the “prep” to make it a little more palatable. Our GI navigators will help with that step as well.

We are also one of the few teams in the region with female gastroenterologists on staff. Many women prefer to have a female doctor for a procedure such as a colonoscopy, and that can be arranged through the GI navigators.

Although colonoscopy is the best and most effective way to get screened, we understand that it is not for everyone. We work with our GI navigators to help find the screening option that is right for you.

Written by Wanda Blanton, MD and Aarti Kakkar, MD who are gastroenterologists at Tufts Medical Center Community Care who see patients at their office in Stoneham and perform procedures at MelroseWakefield Hospital.

To schedule a colonoscopy or to learn more about colon cancer screening options, call 781-213-5212.

Tags: colon cancer, colonoscopy, gastroenterology

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