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A world without colonoscopy? 9 gastroenterologists weigh in on the future of GI's top procedure

Source: Becker's ASC Review

Author: Carrie Pallardy

Published: August 28, 2014

Pankaj Vashi, MD, Lead National Medical Director, National Clinical Director of Gastroenterology/Nutrition, Metabolic Support and Gastroenterology, Cancer Treatment Centers of America at Midwestern Regional Medical Center (Zion, Ill.)

As new and improved technologies are introduced and procedures evolve, it is our responsibility as medical practitioners and advocates for our patients to determine if they are appropriate and justified. I make it a point to stay well-informed of what's happening in and around the GI field for that very reason.

Until something else is proven more effective, colonoscopy remains the gold standard for diagnosis of colorectal cancer in 2014. Recent FDA approval of stool DNA testing, which is extremely sensitive in detecting colon cancers, is another tool we can use; however, they will not replace the colonoscopy.

Research supports that the colorectal cancer screening performed with colonoscopy is responsible for dramatic reduction in deaths from that cancer. It also identifies cancers in early stages potentially leading to more favorable outcomes.

The other evolving screening tool is CT colonography (CTC). This type of screening is very sensitive and specific, but again patients with abnormal findings will eventually need colonoscopy to biopsy or therapeutic removal of polyps.

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