More than 145,000 new colon and rectal cancer cases were diagnosed in 2019. The disease, which doesn’t always have symptoms, can be deadly. That’s why Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month is so important.
Dr. M.H. Razavi has been working with Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center and serving the Woodbridge area since 1993. As a gastroenterologist, he’s performed more than 27,000 endoscopies. “A gastroenterologist focuses on all areas of the digestive tract, liver, pancreas and works with the colon to
perform cancer screenings and colonoscopies,” explains Dr. Razavi.
His message is one of prevention. “As I tell my patients, colon cancer doesn’t come as cancer. It comes as polyps. They get bigger and some of them become cancerous. The key thing is to get them early, as a polyp, before they have any symptoms.”
Symptoms of colon cancer include bleeding, constipation, change in your bowel habits and abdominal pain, but that’s not always the case. “Sometimes the disease can be completely asymptomatic, even with cancer,” explains Dr. Razavi.
That’s why annual screenings for both men and women are so important.
“American Cancer Society has recently changed the screening guidelines to 45 years of age. But, if you have a family history of colon cancer it should be 40, or 10 years younger than the age of the diagnosis, whatever comes earlier,” says Dr. Razavi.
Discuss with your healthcare provider at what age you should begin colon screenings based on your health and family history, but Dr. Razavi stresses, “If you’re having symptoms — regardless of your age — contact your doctor immediately.”
Find a gastroenterologist by calling 1-800-SENTARA or selecting “Find a doctor or provider” at sentara.com/digestive.