Health Watch - Colorectal Cancer: Screening

Health Watch is a Public Service of the Office of News and Publications and is intended to provide general information only and should not replace the advice of a medical professional. You should contact your physician if you have questions about any of these topics.

This week on Health Watch, we’re talking about colorectal cancer, in recognition of National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. Colorectal cancer kills more than 50,000 Americans a year. Dr. Don Rockey, a digestive and liver diseases specialist at UT Southwestern Medical Center, says the good news is that this cancer is highly curable when it’s detected early. That makes screening essential.

There are several screening methods. One is a test for blood in the stool. A colonoscopy may be used to examine the inside of the colon for cancerous growths. In this procedure, a miniature camera is inserted into the colon on a flexible tube. There’s also a virtual colonoscopy procedure, which uses a CT scan and virtual reality software to image the colon and determine if a full colonoscopy is necessary. Doctors generally recommend that annual screenings begin at age 50 — earlier for patients with a higher risk.

Visit  to learn more about UT Southwestern’s clinical services in cancer treatment.


March 2009

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