Sentara Martha Jefferson Monday: Why is Colon Cancer Screening Important?

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Our focus this week is on colon cancer; specifically, prevention, detection, and treatment options that are important for patients to be aware of. 

Colon cancer screening is important when it comes to both preventing, and detecting colon cancer. 

“The best thing you can do to prevent colon cancer is to get a screening colonoscopy starting at the age of 50 unless you have a family history,” commented Dr. Zachary Gregg. 
Dr. Zachary Gregg is a surgeon at Sentara Martha Jefferson Medical and Surgical Associates and specializes in colon cancer. He says early detection truly is the key when it comes to preventing cancer in the first place. 

“If we can catch these  early when it’s in a state of polyps, the polyps can be removed endoscopically during the colonoscopy and that can prevent the development of colon cancer in the future,” noted Gregg. 

Polyps are precancerous lesions which can grow and change into cancer over time. Since many won’t experience symptoms of colon cancer until it’s very advanced, a colonoscopy is really the only way to know for sure if cancer is present. 

“Most times you won’t have any symptoms of a cancer in your colon, or of polyps so you may not have symptoms of pain or bleeding until it’s advanced and to a point where it’s even spread,” commented Gregg. 

If cancer is found though, the good news is it is curable, sometimes with surgery alone. 

“As a team we can really work together to cure this disease, but the best thing we can do is catching it early,” Gregg said.

For more information on this topic, please call 1-800-SENTARA. If you have a health question you'd like us to answer, email healthquestions@nbc29.com.

Sentara Martha Jefferson Monday

Do you have health questions? Get the answers every Monday morning from the experts in our feature: Sentara Martha Jefferson Monday.

Jenn Downs will meet with the experts of Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital and ask them your questions. You’ll see and hear the answers during NBC29 News at Sunrise every Monday morning.

To submit your questions, email them to healthquestions@nbc29.com. Then, tune in every Monday morning during NBC29 News at Sunrise for Sentara Martha Jefferson Monday.

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