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Aurora emphasizes early screening initiative during colorectal cancer awareness month in March

Thursday, March 04, 2004

MILWAUKEE, The numbers are startling: an estimated 147,500 new cases of colorectal cancer will be diagnosed this year, and more than 57,000 men and women will die from the disease. The good news is that 90% of colorectal cancer cases are curable when discovered early through screening tests that detect growths before they become cancerous.

“It’s one of the most effective screenings that we have,” said Paul Hartlaub, MD, associate medical director, quality improvement, Aurora Health Care. “The tests save lives. The mortality rate from colon cancer could be reduced by 60% or even more.”

March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, but Aurora Health Care physicians work year-round to increase the number of patients screened for colorectal cancer. As part of Aurora’s colorectal cancer screening care management initiative, physicians routinely talk with their patients about the benefits of screening. In addition, doctors receive monthly reports that help them track progress in screening patients for colorectal cancer. The results have been encouraging; and the number of patients receiving colonoscopy screenings has more than doubled since 2000.

While this initiative saves lives, it also saves money. The cost of a screening exam is modest when compared with the cost of treating an advanced case of colorectal cancer, which typically involves surgery, chemotherapy and other treatments.

“Starting at age 50, patients should be screened regularly. How often they get screened depends on which test is done,” Dr. Hartlaub said. “The colonoscopy is becoming one of the more popular tests. A small tube about the width of your little finger is inserted in the colon to look for cancer or polyps. If polyps are found, they often can be removed during the procedure.”

Contact: Sue Pierman (414-647-6432)

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