Colon Cancer Screening Can Save Your Life


Second leading cause of cancer death in U.S. is preventable and beatable with early detection

EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (October 22, 2020): As Halloween approaches, the gastroenterologists at Brown Medicine Endoscopy Center remind the public that, when detected early, colon cancer doesn’t have to be deadly.

“What’s really scary about colon cancer is that people die from it when they shouldn’t have to,” states Brown Medicine Endoscopy Center Medical Director Harlan Rich, MD, FACP, AGAF, who also serves as clinical director of Brown Medicine’s Division of Gastroenterology. “This type of cancer, fortunately, may be preventable, and is treatable and beatable.”

Colon cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer and the second leading cause of cancer death in the U.S. The American Cancer Society predicts about 53,000 deaths during 2020. Among those whose lives were lost after diagnosis over the years are high-profile celebrities such as Black Panther actor Chadwick Boseman, TV journalist Katie Couric’s husband, Actresses Elizabeth Montgomery and Audrey Hepburn, and “Peanuts” cartoon creator Charles Schulz.

“Since it’s Halloween season, we’re reminding people that they should not fear the colonoscopy preparation, nor pay attention to horror stories they may have heard from their friends about it,” adds Dr. Rich. “New and improved prep taste and lower-volume solutions help make the preparation more palatable. Gummy bear candies, sports drinks, sherbet and Jell-O are also allowed as part of the prep regimen.”

Brown Medicine Endoscopy Center, an outpatient medical suite dedicated to the prevention and treatment of digestive issues including colon cancer, is following extra cleaning and safety protocols during the COVID-19 pandemic per the Centers for Disease Control and the Rhode Island Department of Health. “Coronavirus has added an extra layer of fear about screening because people worry about contracting COVID-19 in medical facilities,” Dr. Rich comments. “Our Center is doing additional screening, cleaning, social distancing and adding protective measures to be an extremely safe, efficient and convenient alternative for those who wish to avoid going to the hospital for their procedure.”

The key to colon cancer risk reduction is to remove polyps in the colon which are growths of cells that can become cancerous. Screening is advocated for asymptomatic individuals. “Patients with polyps or colon cancer may have no symptoms, so it’s not advisable to wait until changes in stool, abdominal pain or bleeding occur before seeing a gastroenterologist,” states Dr. Rich, who points out those at risk include people aged 50 or older, African Americans, those who smoke or drink heavy amounts of alcohol, or people with a history of inflammatory bowel disease or a family history of colon cancer. “The rate of cancer diagnosis is increasing in younger people, even those without any high risk factors. Patients should seek attention for concerning symptoms including a change in bowel pattern, blood in the stool, belly pain, weight loss, fatigue, or shortness of breath.”

For more information or to make an appointment for colon cancer screening, call 401-649-4030 or visit

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Established in 2018, the Brown Medicine Endoscopy Center is a 9,295-sq. ft. outpatient endoscopy suite offering personalized, skilled patient care in a convenient setting. Diagnostic and therapeutic upper endoscopy and colonoscopy services are performed by a team of experienced Brown Medicine gastroenterologists, nurses, technicians and assistants who specialize in treating digestive disorders. The Center features state-of-the-art technology, comfortable recovery rooms, easy highway access, and plenty of free parking. It is located at 62 Amaral Street in East Providence, R.I. Phone: 401-649-4030.