Caitlin Fuhr-Pessin, MD

According to current New York State health data, nearly 80% of residents between the ages of 50 and 64 in Cortland and most neighboring counties have been screened for colorectal cancer. This far exceeds the 65% testing rate for all state residents in that age group. The region’s excellent colorectal cancer screening rates play an important role in reducing the incidence of colorectal cancer in the Finger Lakes region.

Colonoscopies have saved the lives of many patients by finding colorectal cancer early, when it is most treatable and often curable. Thanks to cancer screening and removal of precancerous polyps, the diagnosis rate for colon cancer today is half what it was in 1970. According to data, 90% of patients are cured if colon cancer is diagnosed early.

What types of colon examinations are there?

There are two types of screening:

colonoscopy. This test can identify 98% of colorectal cancers. A colonoscope is a long, lighted tube with a small camera at the end. Placed inside the rectum and colon, a camera sends images to a video monitor for review by your doctor. If polyps or suspicious areas are found, they can be removed and examined.

stool base. These non-invasive tests can be performed at home and require less preparation than a colonoscopy.

Alternative screening options such as flexible sigmoidoscopy and virtual colonoscopy are also available and can be discussed with your gastroenterologist.

How often are screenings held?

A patient’s risk for colorectal cancer is used to determine the optimal type of screening and its frequency. For those at normal risk, it is recommended to have a colonoscopy every 10 years, and depending on the type of test, he will have a stool-based follow-up test every 1 to 3 years. If polyps are identified, the interval between colonoscopies may be changed.

How do patients prepare for a colonoscopy?

Preparation before a colonoscopy usually begins with a low-fiber diet for several days, followed by a clear liquid diet the day before the procedure. Bowel preparation begins in the afternoon before the colonoscopy. Bowel preparation involves emptying the colon using laxatives.

What are the pros and cons of each type of colorectal screening?


  • A colonoscopy takes 15 to 60 minutes.
  • Patients usually require sedation and recovery may take several hours.
  • This screening detects smaller polyps than other tests.
  • Suspicious tissue or polyps can be removed and examined.

Stool-based testing.

  • The test does not require sedation or laxatives and can be performed at home.
  • Fecal immunochemical tests (FIT) detect blood in the stool, but are less sensitive for detecting cancer than DNA tests.
  • Stool DNA testing can detect approximately 90% of colorectal cancers and 40% of polyps.
  • Stool-based tests detect fewer cancers and polyps than colonoscopies. If the test is positive, a colonoscopy will be required to see if polyps or cancer are present.

Who is at highest risk for colorectal cancer?

Colorectal cancer is one of the most diagnosed and preventable cancers, but it does not affect everyone equally. Age and race play a role in this disparity. Although overall colorectal cancer cases and deaths have declined in the past few decades, the proportion among people younger than 50 years has increased. African Americans, American Indians, and Alaska Natives have the highest incidence of colorectal cancer and are more likely to die from colorectal cancer. than others. The reasons are complex.

When should I start testing for colorectal cancer?

For people at average risk, it is recommended that people get their first test at age 45 and get tested regularly thereafter. Testing at an earlier age and more frequent screening may be done for patients with certain diseases or a personal or family history of colorectal cancer or colorectal polyps.

All patients should tell their health care provider if they experience symptoms such as changes in bowel habits, changes in stool diameter, blood in or on the stool, abdominal pain, or unintentional weight loss.

How can I lower my risk of colon cancer?

  • If you have a family history of colon cancer or large polyps, start getting screened for colon cancer starting at age 45. Or it could be sooner.
  • Eat a healthy diet that includes lots of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. Limit processed and red meat.
  • Do regular exercise.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Please don’t smoke. Limit alcohol intake.

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Dr. Foor-Pessin came to Cayuga Health in 2018 after completing a gastroenterology fellowship at the University of Rochester in Rochester, New York.she earned a medical degree He graduated from Boston University School of Medicine and completed an internship and residency at the University of Michigan Health System in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Dr. Foor-Pessin can be reached at Cayuga Gastroenterology by calling him at 607-339-0788.

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