Butt Seriously.

When it comes to colorectal cancer, early detection could save your butt—and maybe even your life.

Screening and Prevention

Many people don’t realize that colorectal cancer is highly preventable. The American College of Gastroenterology recommends colonoscopy screenings beginning at age 50 for both men and women. African Americans should begin screening at 45. Unlike other cancer screenings which can only detect a problem, a colonoscopy could prevent colorectal cancer by removing precancerous polyps during the exam. Removal of polyps prevents up to 90 percent of colorectal cancer and, with appropriate follow-up, the chance of death from colorectal cancer is further reduced.

Risks

Colorectal cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer deaths in the U.S. Early colorectal cancer usually has no symptoms. Warning signs typically occur with more advanced disease and may include rectal bleeding, blood in the stool, a change in bowel habits and cramping pain in the abdomen. You could be at higher risk if you:

  • Are over age 50
  • Are African American or of Eastern European Jewish descent
  • Have a personal history of colorectal polyps, previously treated colorectal cancer or inflammatory bowel disease
  • Have a personal history of radiation to the abdomen (belly) or pelvic area to treat a prior cancer
  • Have Type 2 diabetes, are obese or are physically inactive
  • Eat a diet that’s high in red or processed meat and/or diets low in calcium, fruits, vegetables and whole-grain fiber
  • Are a smoker or drink alcohol frequently

Diagnosis

Colonoscopy

Every 10 years or as recommended

Colonoscopies have long been considered the gold standard for colorectal cancer screening and detection. Because it lets doctors see the entire colon, it’s the best way to detect and remove polyps—helping prevent colorectal cancer.

Both our hospital GI Center and Endoscopy Center in Arlington Heights use state-of-the-art diagnostic technology and high-definition imaging. Because of this, our detection rate for polyps is 57 percent, well above the national benchmark of 25 percent.

Our facilities are designed for efficiency and patient privacy. The average time patients spend registering, undergoing and recovering from a colonoscopy at our facilities is 2 ½ hours.

Treatments

Treatments vary based on the size, location and if the cancer has spread. The three primary treatment options include surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Our comprehensive colorectal cancer program gives you the care you need close to home. Our team includes board-certified gastroenterologists, a board-certified colorectal surgeon and a dedicated colorectal cancer patient navigator. NCH offers advanced treatment for colorectal cancer including:

Utilizing da Vinci’s technically advanced robotic arms and 3D imaging, NCH surgeons can perform highly complex surgeries through incisions as small as one or two centimeters.
The surgeon removes parts of the colon affected by cancer.
A series of drugs taken intravenously or in a pill form that can kill cancer cells.
The surgeon removes all or part of the rectum.
A special type of chemotherapy that takes advantage of differences between normal cells and cancer cells.
Activates or suppresses the immune system to elicit or amplify a response that can help fight cancer.
Halcyon™, a new radiation therapy delivery system, enables us to provide highly targeted treatment with improved quality, speed, accuracy and comfort for patients.

Expertise

Award-winning GI Care

We performed nearly 13,000 colonoscopies last year. Our world-class care has earned us a number of accolades. We have been recognized by U.S. News & World Report as high performing for gastroenterology, GI surgery and colon cancer surgery for 2018 through 2019. We’re also among the top 5 percent for GI Care in the nation in 2019 and have earned the Healthgrades® Distinguished Hospital Award for Clinical Excellence™ in 2017 and 2018. You can trust our nationally recognized GI experts to deliver industry-leading care when you need it most.

Expertise

Ami Shah Behara, M.D.

Gastroenterologist

Dr. Behara earned a medical degree from Northeast Ohio Medical University. She completed an internal medicine internship and residency, in addition to a gastroenterology fellowship, at Rush University Medical Center.

Aaron Benson, M.D.

Gastroenterologist

Dr. Benson earned a medical degree from the University of Illinois College of Medicine. He completed an internal medicine residency at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, followed by a gastroenterology and hepatology fellowship at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

Nikos Christopoulos, M.D.

Gastroenterologist

Dr. Christopoulos earned a medical degree from the Chicago Medical School, Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science. He completed an internal medicine residency and a gastroenterology/ERCP and capsule endoscopy fellowship at the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Chicago.

Expertise

Michael Hersh, M.D.

Gastroenterologist

Dr. Hersh earned a medical degree from the State University of New York, Stony Brook School of Medicine. He completed an internal medicine residency and a gastroenterology fellowship at Barnes-Jewish Hospital at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

Sandeep Mahajan, M.D.

Gastroenterologist

Dr. Mahajan earned a medical degree from Ross University School of Medicine in Dominica, West Indies. He completed an internal medicine residency and a gastroenterology fellowship at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital / Washington Hospital Center in Washington, D.C.

Mayur Parepally, M.D.

Gastroenterologist

Dr. Parepally earned a medical degree from Temple University School of Medicine in Philadelphia. He completed an internal medicine residency at University of Illinois College of Medicine at Chicago and a gastroenterology fellowship at Loyola University Medical Center.

Expertise

Willis Parsons, M.D.

Gastroenterologist

Dr. Parsons is the Medical Director at the GI Center at NCH. He specializes in advanced GI endoscopic procedures. Dr. Parsons completed a residency and fellowship at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. He is also the Director of the Center for Advanced Therapeutic Endoscopy, located in the Busse Center building on NCH’s campus. 

Benjamin VanCura, M.D. 

Gastroenterologist

Dr. VanCura earned a medical degree from Jefferson Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia. He completed an internal medicine residency and a gastroenterology fellowship at the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Chicago.

Scott Pinchot, M.D.

Colorectal Surgeon

Dr. Pinchot earned a medical degree from the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee. He completed a surgical residency at the University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics in Madison in addition to a colorectal surgery fellowship at Lahey Clinic in Burlington, Massachusetts. He specializes in minimally invasive surgeries to treat colon and rectal cancer, diverticulitis, IBD and benign conditions of the anorectum.

Patient Stories

Terri’s Story

After a rectal cancer diagnosis in 2017, Terri kept the pain to herself and entered a world of self-blame. Now she’s revealing her story to encourage others not to fear or wait to get a colonoscopy because it saved her life. Read >

Joseph’s Story

Joseph shrugged off rectal bleeding, attributing it to hemorrhoids. But at the urging of his wife, he sought medical care at NCH. At 44, he’s among the growing number of younger patients diagnosed with colorectal cancer. Read >

Marge’s Story

When Marge had a bout with food poisoning, she visited an NCH Medical Group physician for assistance. But after a few tests, it was obvious her GI issues were more serious than she expected. Read >

Request an appointment