Dennis Begos, MD, wants patients to know that colon polyps go unnoticed most of the time, affecting upwards of 200,000 people a year. Polyps are cell growths on the lining of the colon or large intestine. There are diagnostic tests such as colonoscopy, barium enema and CT scanning that can detect these polyps, and non-invasive stool testing for blood or abnormal DNA that are also effective. Polyps may grow over time and turn cancerous, which is why if you have polyps, it’s best to have them removed.
“Polyps don’t turn cancerous in every case, but your risk of developing cancer increases with the number and size of colon polyps you have. When they do turn cancerous, polyp cells divide and grow very quickly within the colon and rectum” states Dr. Dennis Begos.
Colon cancer is the third most common type of cancer in the United States. It affects nearly 50,000 Americans each year. If caught early on, it can easily be treated. Typically, there are little to no signs or symptoms of the polyps, so it’s critical to have regular colonoscopies beginning at age 50, or younger if you have a family history of colon or rectal cancer. For unknown reasons, younger people are more commonly being diagnosed with colon cancer.
Dr. Dennis Begos was instrumental in bringing the cutting-edge laparoscopic colon cancer procedure into the Boston area. During his training at Yale and a fellowship at the Cleveland Clinic, he worked with some of the pioneers in laparoscopic colon surgery. When he began practice north of Boston, he was the first to perform it in the Boston area, possibly all of Massachusetts. Now it’s the gold standard for most patients undergoing colon cancer surgery.
Screenings Save Lives
It’s imperative to talk to your physician about protecting yourself and your loved ones who may be at risk for colorectal cancer. Getting a colonoscopy screening is critical for adults with risk factors or over the age of 40. If a family member was diagnosed with colorectal cancer younger than age 50, you may need to start earlier. A colonoscopy is a well tolerated, safe procedure and one that can save your life. When polyps are discovered, they can be removed during a colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy. If they are cancerous, surgery is required in most cases. Chemotherapy or radiation is usually unnecessary if caught early on. It’s always best to be proactive in your colon health, rather than waiting and finding that the cancerous polyps have grown and spread into other organs.
Dr. Begos did his general surgery residency at Yale University (1990-96), where he was honorably named Chief Resident in his last year. Dr. Begos then went on to do a one-year fellowship in colon and rectal surgery at the Cleveland Clinic (1996-97), where he trained with some of the world’s foremost experts in the field. He is married with 2 boys, ages 25 and 22.