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Colon & Colorectal Cancer in New Jersey

The Digestive Health & Nutrition Center has two convenient locations in Lawrenceville and Princeton, New Jersey where you can receive the exceptional care you deserve. Angela Merlo, M.D. is an expert at performing the screening you deserve. Dr. Merlo provides her patients with the most advanced procedures, the most accurate diagnosis and best treatment available.

What is Colon and Colorectal Cancer?

Colon cancer, also called colorectal cancer, is cancer of the colon and rectum. Colon cancer is one of the most common cancers. It is the second most common cancer in women and the third in men. Colon cancer can be genetically determined so that many individuals in one family are affected or it can occur sporadically following a genetic transformation. Polyps are thought to be the first step in the development of colon cancer. Cancer develops in polyps over time as the polyps mature. Detecting and removing polyps before transformation occurs prevents the development of colon cancer.  Remember, polyps usually cause no symptoms. That is why screening colonoscopy even without symptoms is your best protection. A screening colonoscopy allows Dr. Merlo to not only detect polyps but also remove them during the procedure so you can continue to enjoy a health life.

What are the Risk Factors for Colon Cancer?

Certain factors make some people more susceptible to developing colon cancer than others. These factors include:

  • Age over 50 years although younger individuals can be affected
  • First degree relatives with colon cancer or polyps
  • Medical conditions such as Ulcerative Colitis, Crohn’s disease or ovarian cancer

What are the Symptoms of Colon Cancer?

Usually polyps and the early stages of colon cancer produce no symptoms. Warning signs that your colon may not be healthy include:

  • Change in bowel habits such as the size, shape, consistency or frequency of your stools
  • Blood in your stool
  • Bloating or pressure in your abdomen
  • Pains in your abdomen
  • Feeling your bowels do not empty completely
  • Fatigue
  • Unexplained weight loss or loss of appetite

The health of your colon should also be investigated if anemia or iron deficiency is detected on laboratory tests or an abnormality is reported on CT scan or other radiograph.

Who Should be Screened for Colon Cancer?

Screening means searching for disease in the absence of symptoms. The national medical societies agree that all individuals over 50 years old should be screened for colorectal cancer. Individuals with a higher risk for this type of cancer should begin screening at a younger age, usually 40 years. Dr. Merlo is eager to address your concerns and formulate a plan that meets your needs.

What are the Screening Options?

Colonoscopy is currently the best option available. Dr. Merlo uses technologically advanced instruments to thoroughly examine the entire colon and rectum for abnormal growths called polyps. All instruments used by Dr. Merlo are high definition video to permit identification of small flat polyps as well as large growths. Dr. Merlo is expert at removing polyps by inserting other specialized instruments through the colonoscope that allow her to safely resect and remove the unwanted growth. Other screening options such as virtual colonoscopy can only suggest the presence of polyps and require a subsequent colonoscopy to confirm and then remove what is identified. And remember, two tests means two appointments and two bowel preparations.

Experts agree that the risk for developing colon cancer in the years following screening is greatly reduced when the physician performing the colonoscopy takes the necessary time for a thorough examination. Dr. Merlo has extraordinary technical expertise and an unsurpassed dedication to performing high quality colonoscopy examinations.

Why is Screening Important?

Screening is important because it checks for health problems before symptoms develop. The best way to prevent colorectal cancer is to find and remove polyps before they become cancerous. And the best hope for cure is early detection if cancer has already started.  Many individuals postpone making their appointment but are very happy once they take the step to insure their colon is healthy. You should know that easier bowel preparations are now available. Talk to Dr. Merlo about your concerns. Consider screening colonoscopy as 30-minutes that can save your life.

If you need screening or are experiencing symptoms of colon or colorectal cancer, contact the Digestive Health & Nutrition Center in Lawrenceville or Princeton New Jersey, for an appointment with Dr. Merlo.