It Does Matter Who Does Your Colonoscopy!

Most adults are aware that colon cancer is responsible for the second highest number of cancer deaths each year, right behind lung cancer. We do know the best way to avoid developing colon cancer is to have a colonoscopy to screen for pre-cancerous polyps. If polyps are detected, they can be removed before they are allowed to progress to colon cancer.

There is more to this story than just these basic facts. A June 16, 2015 article published in HealthDay News entitled “The Doctor Who Does Your Colonoscopy Matters” speaking about the physicians who perform these colonoscopy procedures, states that, “Those with higher polyp detection rates prevent more cancers and save more lives.” This study involved examining data from nearly 57,800 patients who were part of the Kaiser Permanente Northern California health care system. Patients had their colonoscopies performed by 136 different doctors between 1998 and 2010.

Take a look at the following 3 important conclusions:

  1. Those patients who fail to have a screening colonoscopy have a little more than a 34 out of 1,000 chance of developing colon cancer in their lifetime.
  2. Those patients screened by doctors who were the least adept at spotting polyps had less than a 27 per 1,000 chance of developing colon cancer in their lifetime.
  3. Those patients screened by physicians who were the most skilled at spotting polyps had less that a 13 per 1,000 chance of developing colon cancer in their lifetime.

We should all be screened for colon cancer in line with the guidelines published by The American Cancer Society, but Quality Matters when deciding who should perform our colonoscopy. To help insure that you have a physician who is highly skilled at spotting and removing these polyps, ask your physician these two simple questions: Are you a fellowship trained gastroenterologist? Also, What is your Adenomatous Polyp Detection Rate (ADR for Short)?” This is a number that tells you if the physician you are considering is meeting the guidelines set out by the various professional societies for Gastroenterology. At Texarkana Gastroenterology Consultants, we are members of a national registry sponsored by the American Gastroenterology Association and the American Society of Gastroenterology. We track various measures of quality. We monitor our adenoma detection rate, time spent examining the colon, percentage of time that the entire colon is examined, and complication rate. We are also posting our numbers on a national registry so we can make sure we are on par with high quality endoscopy throughout the country. These items have been determined through research and study to be measures of quality in endoscopy. Not every doctor who does colonoscopy monitors these very important measures of quality. You need to make sure your doctor does.

Gastroenterologists have spent the added time after medical school to complete the specialized training needed to be the most proficient at performing screening colonoscopy procedures, and these specialists are meticulous when it comes to keeping track of their results. If the physician you are considering is not a Fellowship trained Gastroenterologist, and/or they cannot give you their ADR, you should consider seeking out one of these specialists to perform your procedure. It costs no more to have your procedure done by a specially trained Gastroenterologists, and the results speak for themselves!

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