Stan Quinn's routine colonoscopy may have saved his life.

Routine colonoscopies save lives


Stan Quinn’s routine colonoscopy may have saved his life.

When Mr. Quinn, 57, became a new patient at Loyola University Health System last year, his physician prescribed a routine colonoscopy to catch him up on preventive health recommendations.

“I didn’t think anything of it, just that it was a routine exam that was going to reveal nothing wrong,” said Mr. Quinn, who was not experiencing any health problems. “What they actually found was a mass that was too big to remove during the colonoscopy.”

March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month and the message is simple: this disease is highly preventable. Colorectal cancer is 100 percent preventable through screenings that detect and remove small, pre-cancerous growths called polyps.

Loyola staff will raise awareness for the prevention of colon cancer by wearing blue on March 4, in support of National Dress in Blue Day™.

Cancer of the colon or rectum is the second leading cause of cancer deaths among both men and women in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 140,000 Americans are diagnosed annually with colorectal cancer, and more than 50,000 people die from it.

“Colorectal cancer really should get the same attention as breast cancer, prostate cancer and skin cancer,” said Theodore Saclarides, MD, division director of colorectal surgery at Loyola. “Regular screenings really do save lives.”

“It is now clear that not every colonoscopy is equal,” says Neil Gupta, MD, co-director of the digestive health program and director of interventional endoscopy at Loyola. “Once you’ve decided it’s time to get a screening colonoscopy, the next step is to make sure that you get a high quality one.”

Loyola offers all of the colorectal cancer screening tests that are recommended by the United States Preventive Services Task Force and national medical societies. There are two types of colorectal cancer screening tests: tests that detect colorectal cancer and tests that can detect both colorectal cancer and pre-cancerous polyps, Dr. Gupta said. Colonoscopy, CT colonography (virtual colonoscopy), and flexible sigmoidoscopy are all screening tests that can detect colorectal cancer and pre-cancerous polyps.

Stool tests for blood or DNA (such as fecal occult blood test, fecal immunochemical test, or cologuard) are designed to detect colorectal cancer only.

Get checked, Dr. Saclarides advises, if:

  • You have a change in bowel habits.
  • You reach an age at which a colonoscopy is recommended. Current guidelines recommend that everyone get screened for colorectal cancer starting at the age of 50.
  • Your lifestyle and family history predispose you to colon cancer. People with a family history of colorectal cancer or polyps, people with inflammatory bowel disease (such as Crohn’s disease or Ulcerative colitis), and people with hereditary cancer syndromes should start screening earlier.

Loyola physicians perform high quality colonoscopies, performing consistently above the national average on colonoscopy quality measures, including being able to examine the entire colon (cecal intubation rate), having a good bowel prep during the colonoscopy, and detection of pre-cancerous polyps (adenoma detection rate).

“The higher your physician’s adenoma detection rate, the less chance you have of developing colon cancer after your colonoscopy,” said Dr. Gupta, who has an adenoma detection rate of more than 50 percent, meaning he has removed pre-cancerous polyps in more than 50 percent of the screening colonoscopies he has performed. “An adenoma detection rate of at least 20 percent is currently considered a minimum benchmark.”

In addition to the clinic, Loyola treats patients at the GI cancer risk assessment program, where gastroenterologists and geneticists examine and assign a risk to concerned patients.

After Mr. Quinn’s colonoscopy, a biopsy revealed the tumor might be early cancer so the mass had to be removed quickly. Mr. Quinn was referred immediately to Dr. Saclarides, who removed a portion of the colon through laparoscopic surgery, a less-invasive technique involving a small incision, less blood loss and a faster recovery time.

“Stan is basically cured,” Dr. Saclarides said. “And it is all thanks to his getting a colonoscopy, his physicians recommending him to a colorectal surgeon and his being compliant and following through with the procedure.”


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WEBINAR -- "BRCA Genetics in The News:  What Do I Do Next?" -- Wednesday, December 20, 2017, 8 p.m. EST. -- The webinar features Sharsheret's own Genetics Program Coordinator, Peggy Cottrell, MS, CGC, who will explore the latest critical genetics research, decode BRCA and other genetic mutations, and help us understand what steps we need to take next.  A Sharsheret peer supporter will share her personal story and a live question and answer session will follow the presentation.  We are proud to partner with FORCE on this presentation!  To register for the webinar or to share the webinar with others in your network, CLICK HERE.  Feel free to share widely.  If you have any questions, please contact Support Program Coordinator Shira Kravitz at or 1-866-474-2774.

FUNDING OPPORTUNITY -- The Great Plains Tribal Chairmen's Health Board and the Great Plains Tribal Epidemiology Center is pleased to announce 2 new funding opportunities in partnership with the Indian Health Service (with funding from the National Institutes of Health) and the Centers for Disease Control. -- The Substance Abuse and Mental Health IHS/NIH Project Sub-Award will be used to support the assessment of and response to the leading public health priorities of substance abuse and/or mental health.  It is anticipated that up to 6 awards will be available for the 2017-2018 funding cycle.  |  Applications are due on December 29, 2017.  |  LEARN MORE HERE

FUNDING OPPORTUNITY - The Great Plains Tribal Chairmen's Health Board and the Great Plains Tribal Epidemiology Center is pleased to announce two new funding opportunities in partnership with the Indian Health Service (with funding from the National Institutes of Health) and the Centers for Disease Control. | The Tribal Public Health Priorities CDC Project Sub-Award will be used in support of and response to local public health priorities and needs as well as contribute to the development of tribal public health workforce and infrastructure.  It is anticipated that up to 12 awards will be available for the 2017-2018 funding cycle.  |  Applications are due on December 29, 2017. | LEARN MORE HERE

FUNDING OPPORTUNITY - Public Health Institute is accepting applications for the National Leadership Academy for the Public's Health from teams in the Appalachian and Mid-regions of the United States.  "For communities that are engaged in cross-sector work to improve the public health, this is an opportunity to boost your team's capacity and skills through a community leadership process."  Deadline January 12, 2018 - LEARN MORE

It's About a Billion Lives Symposium -- February 2, 2018, 8:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. - University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, CA - SAVE THE DATE - LEARN MORE

Funding Opportunity - Robert Wood Johnson Foundation - Policies for Action:  Policy and Law Research to Build a Culture of Health - HERE