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Pictured above: Joe Askar, MD sits for a photo between cases during his full schedule at the Brooks-TLC GI Lab at the Dunkirk campus.

On any given day, the GI Lab at Brooks-TLC Hospital System, Inc. is a busy place. Familiar faces, gastroenterologist. Hyder Alam, MD and general surgeon, Joe Askar, MD, are on site almost daily, and can be seen working a well-oiled machine with GI nurses at the hospital. In recognition of March as Colorectal Cancer Awareness month, both physicians discuss the importance of colonoscopy in cancer screening.

According to New York State (NYS) Department of Health, colorectal cancer – which is cancer that starts in the colon or rectum – is the third leading cause of cancer death for men and women in NYS. There are approximately 9,000 new cases of colorectal cancer diagnosed each year in NYS. Early detection of colorectal cancer through regular screening can improve survival rates.

Dr. Askar references the NYSDOH Information for Action Report 2019 regarding screening rates in Chautauqua County. He states, “The rate of adults ages 50-75 screened for colorectal cancer in Chautauqua County is 77.5%.” He adds, “That figure places us in the top quartile across New York State. I think that shows we’re doing a great job, but we can always do better.”

He adds, “The American Cancer Society recommends that people at average risk of colorectal cancer start regular screening at age 45. Screening can either be a stool-based test, such as the highly sensitive fecal immunochemical test (FIT) every year or a visual exam of the colon and rectum by way of colonoscopy every 10 years.”

Factors which help reduce the risk of colon cancer include losing weight, getting regular exercise, consuming a healthy diet with limited red meat and fats, and quitting smoking.

For information on colonoscopy or to schedule an appointment, contact Dr. Askar at 716-366-4545 or 716-366-4537.

Stay tuned later this month for tips on an easier prep before colonoscopy with gastroenterologist Dr. Hyder Alam.