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Montefiore in the News

March 3, 2022

HEALTH - Each March, we strive to raise awareness about the importance of colorectal cancer screening. Why? The answer is simple: colorectal cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer in men and women. It is also the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States. Here in the Bronx, we see approximately 600 new cases each year.

Equally as alarming is that we’re seeing incidence of this cancer rising sharply in people younger than 50. Also far too often, both here and nationally, the cancer is diagnosed in the emergency room rather than during preventive screenings.

 Our mission is to ensure people know the signs of colorectal cancer like persistent changes in bowel habits, rectal bleeding and abdominal discomfort (like cramps, pain or gas), but also to partner with our community so steps are taken to prevent colorectal cancer, and if the cancer exists, stop it in its tracks at an early stage.

The good news is that we are seeing cancer screenings increase to pre-pandemic levels, and even better we’ve expanded the number of tools offered at Montefiore.

Colonoscopies are the ‘Gold Standard’

Colonoscopy is the preferred method to screen for colorectal cancer since it allows us to directly see the colon and remove precancerous growths or polyps. In fact, the colonoscopy is the ONLY form of cancer screening that can both diagnose cancer and treat it! While we perform colonoscopies across our Bronx hospitals and outpatient sites we offer non-invasive testing options as well. 

More Screening Options Than Ever Before

Recently, we expanded our stool based test offerings, including fecal immunochemical tests (FIT Tests), the only “tier 1” testing option, along with colonoscopy, recommended by the U.S. Multi-Society Task Force on colorectal cancer. This task force represents the American College of Gastroenterology, the?American Gastroenterological Association, and the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy. We also have SENSA, a high sensitivity fecal occult blood test. 

These tests work by completing a bowel movement in the privacy of your own home, and placing it in a special box. Our department of Pathology evaluates the stool in-house at Montefiore, looking for hidden blood from the lower intestines. 

While coloscopies are the “gold standard” for screening, tests like FIT and SENSA are also effective options. Of the FIT tests distributed by our primary care practices, and examined in-house, we’ve seen a 10 percent positivity rate in our community. This translates to lives saved and emergency department visits avoided.

While most tests are negative, people who do have a positive test result are referred to our colorectal cancer screening program for a colonoscopy to check for precancerous or cancerous growths or polyps. Bottom line – if there is a positive result, a colonoscopy is still required to remove the cancer.

What Happens if Your Stool Test is Positive?

Should you need a colonoscopy, it is important to know that you will not be alone. Patient Navigators, who have been trained to communicate with patients and providers to get the necessary steps taken care of, including scheduling appointments, are trusted resources and advocates throughout the process. 

Our message to the community is that colorectal cancer is Preventable, Treatable, and Beatable when detected early. We ask that anyone who lives in the Bronx and is 45 and above, to reach out to our Colorectal Cancer Screening Program at 718-920-7183. Don't delay!