Augusta, GA – Dr. Thomas Kayal, is a new surgeon practicing at Doctors Hospital, but he is not new at all to fighting colon cancer – a nemesis that could lose its stature as a leading cause of cancer death in the United States, if people would get screened.

Kayal, a colorectal surgeon who recently moved from New Jersey to Augusta, practices at Augusta Health Specialists. For more than 25 years, Kayal, who is board-certified in colon and rectal surgery, has helped patients battle colon cancer. He knows that in many cases the cancer is preventable. The key to prevention: screening.

He has heard the reasons people do not get screened: the test is uncomfortable, lack of time, inconvenience, fear of being diagnosed with cancer, embarrassment, and cost. Kayal says the benefit far outweighs these reasons.

“Getting screened could save your life. Plus it is something that you generally only have to do once every ten years. Colorectal cancer can be prevented by removing precancerous polyps (abnormal growths), which can be present in the colon for as many as 10 years before invasive cancer develops” Kayal says. When colorectal cancer is found early and treated, the 5-year relative survival rate is 90%. Because screening rates are low, less than 40% of colorectal cancers are found early.”

The American Cancer Society advocates that in men and women 50 and older get screened. Some people screening may need to start earlier, particularly if they have a family member who has had it or if they have high risk medical factors, such as obesity.

There are different ways to screen for the disease from simple low-cost at home stool sample kits that test for cancer to colonoscopies. Colonoscopies are one of the most effective ways for detecting cancer. They give doctors a direct visual examination of the colon and allow for the doctor to remove polyps if present, all in a single visit. Polyps are tissue growths that are often how cancer begins in the colon. If the colonoscopy is normal it doesn’t have to be repeated for 10 years.

Kayal encourages people to help keep colon cancer on the bench. “Talk with your physician about what is the best option for you. If you are 50 or older, or a person with a family history of colon cancer, don’t wait. Do it today.”