By Amber Mabe
How is your gut health? This is a conversation that many people find awkward to have with their friends and family, and even more-so with a stranger. The “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it” mentality may mean that you do not even discuss it with your doctor.
What if having one awkward conversation could save your life or the life of someone you care about? Despite the fact that colon cancer is best treated when detected early and almost completely preventable with screening, it continues to be one of the leading causes of cancer-related deaths in the United States. To get the conversation going, Gastroenterology Associates of the Piedmont (known to most as “GAP”) raises awareness, sparks conversations, and performs the appropriate screening and follow-up colonoscopy procedures that often saves lives.
GAP has been dedicated to providing gastrointestinal care to the Triad for over 60 years. There are currently 22 physicians and advanced practitioners that provide care out of locations in Winston-Salem, Kernersville, and Clemmons. The newest addition, GAP’s Kernersville Endoscopy Center, opened in January 2022 in the same building as its consultative office at 445 Pineview Drive, adjacent to Salem Parkway. With this expansion, GAP is literally opening doors for more people to access screenings and receive the diagnostic care they need. People may have delayed care during the pandemic, so GAP is doing everything it can to provide a safe and comfortable environment for patients who understand that colon cancer does not wait!
Who needs to be screened for colon cancer? The answer might surprise you! Until recently, the age for colon cancer screening for those at average-risk started at age 50. However, due to the alarming rate that people are developing colon cancer at a younger age, the recommendation for screening colonoscopy has been lowered to age 45. Open communication with family members and medical providers can help you know whether you may be at a higher-than-average risk that may require screening even sooner, so do not be afraid to delve into your family health history.
It is easier than you think. The unknown of what to expect during a first-time colonoscopy can be intimidating, but GAP’s commitment to compassionate care combined with their state-of-the-art technology aims to provide an experience for patients that is painless and quick – with the procedure itself taking less than half an hour and the patient being fully sedated. Do not let fear of the unknown be the thing that keeps you from scheduling your first colonoscopy, as GAP has staff trained to answer whatever questions you may have.
GAP offers “open access” colonoscopy screenings for those age 45 and up, meaning you do not need to go through the process of obtaining a referral from your primary care provider to schedule the procedure.
Most insurance companies have already started covering these screenings at age 45, and the few that have not will
be required by the United States Preventive Services Task Force to comply with the new guidelines by May 31of this year.
But wait… a colonoscopy is not just for screening. If you are experiencing any irregularities in your gastrointestinal health, be honest with your doctor or schedule a consultative appointment with one of GAP’s specialists. A colonoscopy (or endoscopy) may be the key in diagnosing problems with bowel habits, constipation, diarrhea, stomach pain, rectal bleeding, nausea, difficulty swallowing, heartburn, reflux, and other symptoms that should not be considered “normal.”
Talking about gastrointestinal health does not have to be taboo. It is just a normal day at GAP to fight on the front lines against colon cancer, but we should all do our part to raise awareness and encourage screening.
To take the first step in protecting your gastrointestinal health, visit GAPGI.com or call 336-448-2427 to schedule an appointment.
Get Your Rear in Gear for Colon Cancer Awareness Month!
March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month, and GAP is excited to once again sponsor and take part in the annual Get Your Rear in Gear 5k run/walk. Proceeds from the event will benefit the local community through the Colon Cancer Coalition, providing financial aid to cancer patients, removing barriers to screening for the un- and under-insured, and providing funds for research and education regarding colorectal cancers.
Join Us Saturday, March 26 at Jamison Park in Winston-Salem
Opening Ceremony at 8:45am
Pre-register online to participate:
5k Run or Walk ($30 for adults and $15 for age 12 & under)
Kid’s Fun Run ($15 for age 10 & under)
Virtual Participant ($20)
Registration fees are waived for colorectal cancer patients and survivors.
Rest assured that there are protocols in place that allow the in-person event to happen in a way that brings back a sense of normalcy without sacrificing personal safety.
If you want to know more about Get Your Rear in Gear or would like to donate to the cause, visit Donate.ColonCancer