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Kicking Colon Cancer to the Curb

NCH's advances in colonoscopy may help tame one of cancer's top killers

Prostate cancer gets plenty of press. And pro baseball players use pink bats on Mother's Day to help strike out breast cancer. But where's the love for colon cancer?

While decidedly not trendy—who has bumper stickers with "save your colon" slogans?—and uncomfortable to discuss, colon cancer is the nation's second-leading cancer killer. Since March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, it's a good time to open the discussion.

Ami S. Behara, MD, MS, board-certified gastroenterologist with Northwest Community Healthcare's (NCH) Medical Group, talks about the No. 1 way to detect and prevent colon cancer.


Colonoscopy is the gold standard for detecting early—or even precancerous—signs of colorectal cancer.

"The benefits of colonoscopy over other methods of screening would be that we can detect early cancer and colon polyps," Dr. Behara says. "Most colorectal cancers arise from pre-cancerous polyps."

In adults of normal risk, colonoscopy is recommended every 10 years beginning at age 50.

Dr. Behara notes that those at higher risk should talk to their doctor about earlier and more frequent screening.

The Colon Cancer Alliance suggests that if everyone age 50 and older had regular screening tests, as many as eight in 10 colorectal cancer deaths could be prevented.

The NCH Advantage

At Northwest Community Healthcare's Gastroenterology Center, colonoscopy patients have these advantages:

  • Top-of-the-line technology. Dr. Behara notes that NCH recently implemented new Olympus colonoscopes, which improve diagnostic performance. "Better scopes with higher resolution improve our ability to detect smaller polyps that might be missed with inferior equipment," she says.
  • Personal touch. "Our nurses, anesthesiologists and doctors do their best to put patients at ease," she says.
  • Experience. When it comes to detecting cancer, experience counts. NCH performs thousands of colonoscopies each year.
  • Comfort. Dr. Behara says NCH uses carbon dioxide infusion (rather than just room air) during colonoscopy. "This makes patients much more comfortable after the procedure," she says.
  • Quality. Each colonoscopy at NCH is timed to ensure the greatest likelihood of finding any polyps.

Robert Aki, MD

Ami S. Behara, MD, MS

Gastroenterologist at NCH

  • Board-certified: Gastroenterology
  • Medical school: Northeast Ohio Medical University
  • Residency: Rush University Medical Center, Chicago

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Last Updated 04/10/2009