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Karen Mallet
(media only)

Georgetown Lombardi Experts Underscore Importance of Colorectal Cancer Screenings

New CDC report shows screening is a major reasons thousands of lives are saved.

Washington, D.C. – Citing a report issued this week by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that finds the rate of people developing and dying from colorectal cancer has dropped, cancer specialist John Marshall, M.D., director of the Ruesch Center for the Cure of Gastrointestinal Cancers at Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, has a clear message for men and women, “Getting a colonoscopy will help keep you out of our offices!”

The government report noted screening for the disease as a major factor for the gains. The report, Vital Signs, shows that between 2003 and 2007 approximately 66,000 expected colorectal cancer cases were prevented and 32,000 lives were saved. The CDC says that roughly half of prevented cases and prevented deaths were due to screening.

Colon cancer is the No. 2 cancer killer in the United States, but in many instances the disease can be prevented by screening. The CDC says one in three adults is not up to date with the recommended colorectal screening guidelines.

There are three methods for screening that allow doctors to identify polyps, or growths, in a precancerous stage. Removing these growths can prevent them from developing into cancer. Screening is recommended for men and women beginning at age 50, using one or a combination of these methods:

-Fecal occult blood test (FOBT), done at home every year,
-Flexible sigmoidoscopy, done every five years, with FOBT done every three years,
-Colonoscopy, done every 10 years.

Most physicians point to the colonoscopy as the “gold standard” of screening because it allows the administering doctor to visualize the entire colon, identify any suspicious growths, and remove the tumor.

In 2007, Washington, D.C., reported the highest number of colorectal cancer deaths, though the number is declining. The data also show no decrease in the number of cancer cases, a figure doctors say can be changed.

“This report confirms the fact that colon cancer is a truly preventable disease,” says Michael Pishvaian, M.D., Ph.D., a gastrointestinal cancer specialist with the Ruesch Center at Georgetown Lombardi. “While we have come a long way in the treatment of colon cancer, it has been at great cost in terms of health care dollars. The cost of prevention would likely be much less – a bonus to our ultimate goal of saving lives.”

Click here to read more details about the report.
For information on what you can do to reduce your risk of colon cancer, visit the CDC website.

About the Otto J. Ruesch Center for the Cure of Gastrointestinal Cancers
The Otto J. Ruesch Center for the Cure of Gastrointestinal Cancers combines molecular medicine, translational research and a patient-centered philosophy to realize the dream of individualized curative therapies through research, care and advocacy. Under the direction of John L. Marshall, M.D., a global leader in gastrointestinal cancer research and care, the Ruesch Center is one of the few research centers in the country to focus exclusively on curing this deadly set of diseases. For more information, visit

About Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center
Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, part of Georgetown University Medical Center and Georgetown University Hospital, seeks to improve the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of cancer through innovative basic and clinical research, patient care, community education and outreach, and the training of cancer specialists of the future. Georgetown Lombardi is one of only 40 comprehensive cancer centers in the nation, as designated by the National Cancer Institute, and the only one in the Washington, DC, area. For more information, go to

About Georgetown University Medical Center
Georgetown University Medical Center is an internationally recognized academic medical center with a three-part mission of research, teaching and patient care (through MedStar Health). GUMC’s mission is carried out with a strong emphasis on public service and a dedication to the Catholic, Jesuit principle of cura personalis -- or "care of the whole person." The Medical Center includes the School of Medicine and the School of Nursing & Health Studies, both nationally ranked; Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, designated as a comprehensive cancer center by the National Cancer Institute; and the Biomedical Graduate Research Organization (BGRO), which accounts for the majority of externally funded research at GUMC including a Clinical Translation and Science Award from the National Institutes of Health. In fiscal year 2009-2010, GUMC accounted for nearly 80 percent of Georgetown University's extramural research funding.


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