Share this story

LISTEN: Justin Maykel discusses importance of early colorectal cancer screening

March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month and Justin Maykel, MD, associate professor of surgery, has an important message for the public: Get your colonoscopy as early as possible.

In a new Voices of UMassMed podcast, Dr. Maykel, the Gladys Smith Martin Chair in Oncology and chief of the Division of Colorectal Surgery at UMass Memorial Medical Center, explains the importance of early screening. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends adults get screened for colorectal cancer beginning at age 50, or earlier if they have a history of the disease in their family.

“For friends and family, I’ve been preaching for years that I think that 50 is too late, especially when we’re talking about 10 percent of our patients being diagnosed before age 50,” Maykel said. “Remember, the purpose of screening is, number one, to find pre-cancerous polyps so that they can be removed so they never have an opportunity to grow into a cancer, or number two, find the earliest of cancers when they’re in a more curable stage.”

Colorectal cancer is one of the leading causes of cancer-related deaths in the United States. It claims more than 50,000 lives each year. Early diagnosis often leads to a complete cure.

Listen to the full podcast at Subscribe to the podcast on SoundCloud and iTunes by searching for Voices of UMassMed.