UCI Health eases barriers to colonoscopies

October 21, 2021

The UCI Health Digestive Health Institute is is now offering Saturday appointments for colonoscopies, the gold standard for detecting and preventing the spread of colon and rectal cancer.

“Colon and rectal cancers are among the most preventable cancers, especially with the early diagnosis through colonoscopy,” said Dr. Kenneth Chang, executive director of the UCI Health Digestive Health Institute. “Our goal at the UCI Health Digestive Health Institute is to eliminate colorectal cancer in Orange County.”

Colorectal cancer continues to be the second leading cause of cancer-related death in the U.S., claiming more than 50,000 lives a year, despite being one of the most avoidable types of cancer.

He said the continuing COVID-19 pandemic may have convinced people to delay their regular colonoscopy.

“It is critical that people do not delay their screenings,” Chang said. “Though it may be inconvenient, scheduling regular colonoscopies can prevent cancer or if cancer is present, diagnose it at an early stage when endoscopic and/or laparoscopic removal can be curative.”

To schedule a colonoscopy, call 888-717-4463.

UCI Health patients with a current My Chart account can see when their colonoscopy is recommended.

The Digestive Health Institute provides clinical innovation and world-class care, which includes building artificial intelligence into colonoscopies to make them more effective screening tools, perfecting minimally invasive esophageal cancer surgery and developing groundbreaking diagnostic tools for liver disease.

For more than a dozen years, this team has improved digestive health practices all over the world through the annual UCI Health Gastroenterology & Hepatology Symposium.

The Digestive Health Institute has also been working towards easing barriers to colonoscopies.

While the overall rate of people being diagnosed with colon or rectal cancer continues to drop each year primarily due to screenings to detect and remove precancerous polyps, a major deterrent for people not getting screened is appointment availability that matches their schedule.

To increase access for colorectal cancer screenings and prevention, the Digestive Health Institute has made Saturday appointments available.

“We hope the convenience of an additional screening day will encourage more patients, especially young adults, to get screened early and regularly,” Chang said.

A 2014 UCI study showed a significant increase in colorectal cancer among young adults between the ages of 20 and 39, which has prompted UCI Health gastroenterologists and colorectal surgeons to advocate for earlier screening for several years. 

In 2018, the American Cancer Society changed its recommended screening age to 45 from age 50. More recently, the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF) has also updated their recommendations to match the American Cancer Society’s.

The lifetime risk of developing colorectal cancer is about one in 23 for men; and one in 25 for women. Early detection and removal of precancerous polyps and early-stage cancers along with lifestyle changes can reduce the risk of developing colon or rectal cancer by up to 90 percent.

UCI Health is the clinical enterprise of the University of California, Irvine, and the only academic health system in Orange County. Patients can access UCI Health at primary and specialty care offices across Orange County and at its main campus, UCI Medical Center in Orange, Calif. The 418-bed acute care hospital, listed among America’s Best Hospitals by U.S. News & World Report for 21 consecutive years, provides tertiary and quaternary care, ambulatory and specialty medical clinics, behavioral health and rehabilitation services. UCI Medical Center is home to Orange County’s only National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer centerhigh-risk perinatal/neonatal program and American College of Surgeons-verified Level I adult and Level II pediatric trauma center and regional burn center. UCI Health serves a region of nearly 4 million people in Orange County, western Riverside County and southeast Los Angeles County. Follow us on FacebookInstagramLinkedIn and Twitter.

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