Patient Stories

A Colonoscopy Catch

Main Article Content

Colonoscopy Leads to Preventative Treatment

A patient’s decision to have a screening colonoscopy helped NM physicians identify and remove growths just before they turned into cancer.

Laura Lau, a 70-year-old patient, has no family history of colon cancer. But, because she is over the age of 50, her primary care physician, Nicholas Zoretic, DO, from Northwestern Medicine Regional Medical Group in Bloomingdale, recommended a screening colonoscopy.

“Preventing colon cancer is the key reason for getting tested,” says Rajesh Keswani, MD, gastroenterologist at the Digestive Health Center at Northwestern Memorial Hospital and director of quality for the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “Colonoscopies are our preferred method to find polyps, or small growths in the colon that shouldn’t be there, before they turn into cancer.”

Lau says it wasn’t until her husband scheduled a colonoscopy for himself that she decided it was time. “I kept putting it off,” says Lau. “I knew I just needed to do it and get it over with. It was time.” She then scheduled her procedure with Arvin Bhatia, MD, gastroenterologist with Regional Medical Group at Northwestern Medicine Delnor Hospital.

Lau’s colonoscopy showed a very large polyp and biopsies showed that it had not yet turned into cancer. While many patients undergo surgery to remove these large polyps, Dr. Bhatia consulted with Dr. Keswani, who specializes in large polyp removal. They both agreed that an attempt to remove the polyp via colonoscopy with Dr. Keswani would be appropriate. “The process was smooth and convenient,” says Lau. “Since all three of my doctors are a part of Northwestern Medicine, I didn’t have to start over with each appointment. I live in the Chicago suburbs and only had to travel downtown once for the procedure since my doctors were communicating.”

Lau’s results confirmed that she had gotten her colonoscopy just in time as the polyp had not yet turned into cancer. She is now back to doing what she loves — working as a substitute teacher at local high schools three days a week.

“The best way to prevent colon cancer is to get tested,” says Dr. Keswani. “Colorectal cancer usually develops after the age of 50, and the chances of getting it typically increase as you get older.”

Learn other ways to prevent colorectal cancer or visit the Digestive Health Center for more information.

Interested in connecting more to the Northwestern Medicine community? Sign up for the Healthy Tips E-Newsletter for everything from health and wellness ideas to patient breakthroughs to academic and medical advancements. Because what makes us better, makes you better.