family doctor

Many of us tend to delay our healthcare visits in the first place, and more so while we’ve been concerned about potential exposure to COVID-19. Even as COVID-19 infections decline, more than one in 10 people are still putting off routine healthcare visits. Regrettably, while our collective attention has been focused on the pandemic, large numbers of us have neglected basic screenings and preventive care.

March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

Perhaps unsurprisingly, colorectal screenings were among the most neglected procedures. By April 2020, colonoscopies were down as much as 90 percent from the year before.

“Numerous studies have shown there’s a clear-cut correlation between routine screenings and positive healthcare outcomes,” says Anne Guiral, The Good Clinic’s family nurse practitioner from the Arbor Lakes Clinic in Maple Grove, MN.

Colorectal cancer, or CRC, is a prime example. If detected in the localized stage, CRC has shown a 90.2 percent five-year relative survival rate.

Early Detection is Key

According to the American Cancer Society, colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer diagnosis in the United States. Every year colorectal cancer claims the lives of nearly as many women as ovarian, cervical, and uterine cancers combined.

“Many conditions are harder to treat the longer they go undetected,” said Guiral. “Colorectal cancer fits that mold to a T.”

CRC often starts with abnormal growths called polyps that form in the colon or rectum. Left unchecked, these polyps can turn into cancer. Routine colorectal screenings can help your care team find and remove these polyps before they turn cancerous.

Colorectal screening typically starts with a Good Clinic nurse practitioner gathering a family history of colon and other cancers and then discussing what age is most appropriate for the screening test. According to the National Cancer Institute, most groups now generally recommend that people at average risk of colorectal cancer get screened at regular intervals beginning at age 45 or 50. Sometimes screening is done earlier based on history and risk factors.

The screening test is usually a colonoscopy but can also be a less invasive Cologard stool test. Different tests have different advantages and disadvantages, and people should talk with their healthcare provider about which test is best for them as well as the frequency of rescreening based on the test results.

Put the Focus Where It Belongs

“My role as a healthcare provider is to listen, educate and support my clients as they work toward their wellness goals,” says Guiral. “Helping them understand the direct connection between self-care and preventive medicine is my passion. I’m here to help.”

In addition to colorectal screenings, a typical preventive care visit may include a blood pressure test, cholesterol check, and basic screenings for diabetes, cancer, STIs, and mental wellness.

If you’re one of the many people who’ve put their wellness checks on hold since COVID-19 began, it’s time to put the focus back where it belongs—on your day-to-day health and wellbeing. Book an appointment with The Good Clinic today.