The Brooklyn Paper
Even more than the embarrassment of the actual colonoscopy procedure, the fear of the unknown and denial are probably the hardest barriers to overcome for people who have never had it done.
Colorectal cancer, more commonly referred to as colon cancer, is the second biggest cause of cancer deaths and the third most common cancer found in men and women. Compared to other cancers, however, colon cancer is easier to detect and treat, according to Robin Baradarian, MD, interventional gastroenterologist, Mount Sinai Beth Israel Brooklyn, “because most colon cancers start off as non-cancerous growths called polyps.”
“Colonoscopy is a very simple, easy and effective test that is both diagnostic and therapeutic at the same time. The test is absolutely painless and takes less than 20 minutes,” assured Dr. Baradarian. For most patients, the worst part is the preparation to cleanse the intestinal tract, which has actually become easier to take.
Nunzio Fusco, an architect with a family history of cancer, started having “stomach issues” years before a cancer lesion was found during a colonoscopy at age 37. He had surgery to remove a two-inch growth in his large intestine followed by chemotherapy. Genetic testing afterwards revealed that a particular genetic sequence indeed puts him at increased risk for colon cancer.
Convinced that early detection is the best way to beat colon cancer, he said, “I wish I had gotten myself checked when I was 30.”
One patient, 56, who asked to be identified as M.B., initially convinced herself that she had IBS—irritable bowel syndrome—like her sister when she spotted blood in her stool. After months of excuses to postpone yet another appointment, she could no longer rationalize her situation. A colonoscopy by Dr. Baradarian showed a suspicious growth and he recommended surgery.
“If I hadn’t waited, she said, “I might just have had a simple polyps removal during colonoscopy. I would not have had to go through major surgery and treatment. I would urge people not to wait if they feel there might be a problem.”
Gregory Kamenshchik, 66, is a criminal defense attorney in his native Ukraine who has been a consultant in international law since coming to the U.S. in 1980. He has become an advocate of early screening for colorectal cancer and colonoscopy. “I tell everyone to go to Dr. Baradarian,” whom he calls his angel. “He did a colonoscopy and he has saved my life,” said the grateful patient.
“There is nothing to fear from a colonoscopy. I always tell my patients that the most frightening thing is not knowing what’s going on inside your body,” said Dr. Baradarian.