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Murfreesboro Medical Clinic’s Gastroenterology Department Leads Local Charge for Colorectal Cancer Awareness and Screening



Recent studies have revealed an increase in incidence of colorectal cancer amongst people younger than age 50, which has led to updated screening recommendations.

This is why the Gastroenterology department at Murfreesboro Medical Clinic & SurgiCenter is educating their patients and community about the importance of routine screenings. March is nationally recognized as Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. The Gastroenterologists at MMC hope to bring attention to recent developments in the field and to break stigmas associated with colorectal healthcare and colonoscopies.

The United States Preventive Services Task Force now recommends that adults begin screening for colorectal cancer at age 45. Because of this new guideline, both private insurers and Medicare will soon be required to cover the costs of your colorectal cancer screening when performed by an in-network provider starting at age 45. In fact, most insurances already are.

Screening with Colonoscopy

Although there are many screenings that can help find colorectal cancer, MMC Gastroenterologist Brian D. Smith, M.D. says that none is better than a colonoscopy.

“Early stages of colorectal cancer usually present with no symptoms. A colonoscopy is the only test to prevent colorectal cancer, with the unique ability to remove polyps before they turn into cancer,” said Dr. Smith. “It is the only screening test recommended at 10-year intervals, because it’s by far the best test at finding precancerous polyps.”

With four gastroenterologists, four advanced practice providers and an in-house, accredited SurgiCenter, MMC is well-equipped to perform safe and reliable colonoscopies. Preparations have improved, and are generally easier to tolerate than in the past. The procedure is performed with the patient sedated, and generally there is no pain during or after the procedure. Most patients will feel well upon leaving the SurgiCenter, get back to a regular diet that day and resume regular activities, such as work, the day after.

Breaking the Stigma

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), colorectal cancer is the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the U.S. The American Cancer Society estimates that there will be about 150,000 new cases of colorectal cancer in the U.S. in 2022, leading to an estimated 52,580 deaths. Even with these startling statistics, the CDC says that only about 7 out of 10 U.S. adults aged 50 to 75 are up-to-date with colorectal cancer screening.

“My suspicion is that people do not want to have the test mostly out of embarrassment,” said MMC Gastroenterologist Robert Knox, M.D. “But talking to the patient directly will usually alleviate their angst about going thru the procedure. Knowing where you stand regarding your colon health is incredibly valuable.”

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