Danbury Hospital Colorectal Physician Expert Offers Advice to Save Lives during Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month
Early Screening Essential to Prevention and Increasing Cure Rate
Joseph J. Fiorito, M.D.
Chief of Gastroenterology
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March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month and colorectal cancer physician expert Joseph Fiorito, MD, Chief of Gastroenterology at Danbury Hospital, is speaking out with advice on this potentially life-threatening disease.
"Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States, with almost 50,000 people expected to die from this disease each year," Dr. Fiorito explains. "However, it is a preventable and very curable disease if it's detected early."
Symptoms such as rectal bleeding usually develop after the cancer is advanced. Therefore early detection is necessary with screening tests such as colonoscopy. "The benefits of early detection and treatment are dramatic," Dr. Fiorito says. "The possibility of curing patients after symptoms develop is less than 50 percent, but if colorectal cancer is found and treated at an early stage before symptoms develop, the opportunity to cure it is 80 percent or better; and more importantly the development of colon cancer can be prevented entirely."
"Most colon cancers start as non-cancerous growths called polyps. If we are able to find these polyps while they are still non-cancerous, we remove them and the cancer may be prevented. Surgery can usually be avoided, as well," Dr. Fiorito adds.
Colorectal surgeons are experts in the surgical and nonsurgical treatment of colon and rectal problems and play an instrumental role in the effective screening, prevention and treatment of colorectal cancer. Studies have shown that patients treated by colorectal surgeons are more likely to survive colorectal cancer because of their advanced training and the large number of colon and rectal disease surgeries they perform.
Danbury Hospital's highly-skilled colorectal physicians and surgeons utilize the most advanced technology to diagnose and stage colorectal cancer, such as Endoscopic Ultrasound which may be used to determine if minimally invasive surgery, chemotherapy or radiation is the most appropriate treatment for our patients. "Patients don't need to travel to another health care facility for testing or services," said Dr. Fiorito. "It's all available at Danbury Hospital."
The most important take home message is that people obtain an appropriate evaluation for colorectal cancer screening as this has been shown to save lives. Many of our societies, such as The American Gastroenterological Association and The American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons (ASCRS), have published clear guidelines.
There are many tests available for colorectal cancer screening from fecal occult blood testing to imaging studies such as virtual colonoscopy, as well as colonoscopy.
Our team of physicians here at Danbury Hospital recommend colonoscopy at the age of 50 for patients who are at average risk for colon cancer since this is the "Gold Standard" test. However, each person should consult their physician to determine what is best for them. Newer ways to prepare for colonoscopy do not require drinking an entire gallon of fluid.
People at increased risk for colorectal cancer include those with a personal or family history of colorectal polyps or cancer, those with a personal history of breast, uterine or ovarian cancer, and those with chronic ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease. They should be screened at an earlier and more frequent rate and should see their colorectal surgeon or primary care physician provider for specific recommendations.
Dr. Fiorito notes that in addition to getting screened regularly for colorectal cancer, people can lower their risk of getting the disease by:
- Avoiding foods that are high in fat
- Eating plenty of vegetables, fruits and other high-fiber foods
- Exercising regularly and maintaining a normal body weight
- Not smoking and drinking alcohol only in moderation
For more information on colorectal cancer screening, prevention and treatment, call 1-800-516-4743, or please visit the Gastroenterology section of our Website.
About the "New" Western Connecticut Health Network
Western Connecticut Health Network is the region's premier, patient-centered health care organization serving residents of Western Connecticut and adjacent New York. With this recent affiliation, the organization is now anchored by three nationally recognized hospitals, Danbury Hospital, New Milford Hospital and Norwalk Hospital, as well as their affiliated organizations. In addition to the three hospitals, the continuum of care offered includes numerous medical practices and sub-specialties across the region, home health care services, a nationally renowned biomedical research institute, the Western Connecticut Health Network Foundation, the Norwalk Hospital Foundation and other affiliates. For more information, visit TheNewWCHN.org. Share your comments with us at Facebook.com/DanburyHospital; Facebook.com/NewMilfordHospital and/or Facebook.com/NorwalkHospital.