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Cancer Prevention, Screening and Testing

Virtua gastroenterologists serve an important function in the battle against digestive cancers. They are highly trained in both the  risk factors  and the signs and symptoms of cancer in the GI tract, and the often become the first line of detection for such disease.

These specialists monitor for cancer indications in routine care of their patients and are highly experienced in diagnosis with patients referred for  evaluation for possible precancerous or cancerous conditions. Virtua gastroenterologists use the very latest protocols for regular cancer screening and for testing patients who have any signs or risk factors for such diseases as cancer of the:

  • larynx;
  • esophagus;
  • stomach;
  • pancreas;
  • biliary system;
  • liver;
  • small intestine;
  • colon;
  • rectum;
  • anus.

Virtua gastroenterologists obtain these types of view of the colon (large intestine) during a colonoscopy exam.

Gastroenterologists serve as a special level of care in efforts to stay vigilant against digestive cancers. They provide expert risk evaluation and diagnostics for early detection-and help to manage both preventive steps and aspects of cancer care.
Scoping Spots Problems

In particular for cancers of the larynx, esophagus, stomach and colon, Virtua gastroenterologists can advise on dietary and lifestyle factors to decrease risk. They work closely on counseling and caring for patients who have history of or risk factors for these conditions.

In recent decades, endoscopy has revolutionized evaluation and care of digestive cancers. Using endoscopes-which have a video camera and light source at the end of a slender, flexible tube-GI specialists can identify and localize areas of concern for abnormal tissue growth. They can also sample (biopsy) these areas for lab evaluation. (Colorectal and general surgeons may also use endoscopy to perform minimally invasive procedures for cancer surgery.)

Two Very Important Tests

Two primary areas of endoscopic evaluation for cancer in gastroenterology are:

  • colonoscopy. Gastroenterologists provide colonoscopic examinations on an established schedule according to patient age. This test uses a specially designed endoscope (colonoscope) introduced via the rectum to view the large bowel (or colon or large intestine). The exam requires bowel preparation and fasting, as well as sedation during test.
  • upper endoscopy. This procedure involves introducing an endoscope orally, advancing it down the throat and esophagus, and sometimes into the stomach or beyond. It permits the gastroenterologist to examine the upper portion of the digestive tract especially for cancer of the larynx, esophagus or stomach. It requires only fasting and sedation.

Virtua specialists provide the highest quality colonoscopy and upper endoscopy at the Lourdes endoscopy center.

The lifetime risk of developing colorectal cancer is about 1 in 20. Combined for men in women, this disease is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths. Thanks to greater awareness and improved care, the U.S. now has more than one million survivors of colorectal cancer.
GI Cancers of Particular Concern

Because of their ability to take lives, several GI cancers are of particular concern:

  • Colorectal cancer. Cancer of colon or rectum is one of the most common forms of cancer. Risk of the cancer increase once a person reaches late 40s and beyond. Gastroenterologists are usually the first to detect this problem, as a result of a colonoscopy. With better screening and earlier treatment, the death rate from this disease has continued to decline. Colorectal surgery and chemotherapy are the primary forms of treatment.
  • See Lourdes’ physician newsletter on liver transplantation for liver cancer.

    Liver cancer. Cancer in the liver is not uncommon, but it usually occurs as a spread or metastasis of a cancer from another location of the body. Conversely, primary liver cancer (cancer that begins in the liver) is usually a long-term outcome of damage to the liver from alcohol use, viral hepatitis or other cause. Loss of weight and other GI problems are among symptoms that mark cancer in this organ. GI specialists have special training in identifying and managing risk for this disease, and in detecting its signs. Cancer specialists use a variety of techniques to remove or kill cancer cells in the liver, including resection of a portion of the liver, interventional techniques, or liver transplantation.

  • Pancreatic cancer. Cancer of the pancreas is less common but known for how difficult it is to treat. It causes pain, weight loss, and a variety of other symptoms. Only occasionally is it discovered early enough to remove the tumor.

Virtua’s GI service takes pride in the quality of its cancer prevention, testing and screening services. Virtua gastroenterologists approach very seriously their job of trying to safeguard patients from cancer-and their role in helping to coordinate state-of-the-science treatment when needed. In the latter case, they work in close communication and coordination with head-and-neck cancer specialists, colorectal and general surgeons, and radiation and medical oncologists, including at Virtua’s comprehensive Cancer Program.

1-888-847-8823 (568-7337)

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