Joe Starke, M.D., provides important information on preventing colorectal cancer

Released: 03/24/21

Colorectal cancer is the second most deadly cancer for both men and women. Yet according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, most of these deaths could be prevented if everyone over the recommended age got screened. Because there are often no signs or symptoms, the best way to prevent colorectal cancer is to get screened. If left undiagnosed or undetected, colorectal cancer can spread throughout the body.

Mayo Clinic Health System general surgeon Joe Starke, M.D., shares “A few years ago the American Cancer Society decreased the recommended age for colon screenings from 50 to 45 due to increases seen in colon cancer in younger adults. Over time some polyps can turn into cancer, and screening early may help find and remove precancerous polyps.”

Dr. Starke adds, “Colon cancer is somewhat unique in that early detection may prevent the need for extended treatment.   By simply removing the polyps during a colonoscopy, for many patients, we have effectively stopped the cancer in its tracks.”

Dr. Starke joined Mayo Clinic Health System and Winneshiek Medical Center nearly a year ago. He has practiced as a general surgeon since 1992 in a variety of settings, and has special interests in cancer, breast, thyroid and gastrointestinal surgical care.

Colorectal Cancer Screening Guidelines

  • Adults ages 45 and older with an average risk of colorectal cancer should undergo regular screening with either a high-sensitivity stool-based test or a structural (visual) exam, depending on patient preference and test availability.
  • As a part of the screening process, all positive results on non-colonoscopy screening tests should be followed up with a timely colonoscopy.
  • Average-risk adults in good health with a life expectancy of greater than 10 years should continue colorectal cancer screening through age 75.

Risk Factors

  • Age (age 50 and older)
  • Growths (called polyps) inside the colon
  • Family history of colorectal cancer
  • Smoking
  • Health conditions like Crohn’s Disease
  • Being African-American

Reduce Your Risk

You can reduce your risk if you get screened for colorectal cancer starting at the age of 45. You can also reduce your risk of colorectal cancer by:

  • Increasing your activity level
  • Choosing healthy foods
  • Quitting smoking

Make an appointment with Dr. Starke at Winneshiek Medical Center to discuss your screening options for colorectal cancer.  Call for an appointment 563-382-2911.

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