March is recognized as National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, during which, individuals age 50 or older who have never had a screening colonoscopy, or those with a family history of the disease, are encouraged to speak with their primary care providers about the procedure.

Colorectal cancer is currently the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States, but is also one of the most preventable and treatable cancers, if caught early. Fort HealthCare recommends screening colonoscopies as the best and most comprehensive method for early colorectal cancer detection.

Cancer is a disease in which cells in the body grow out of control. When cancer starts in the colon or rectum, it is called colorectal cancer. Sometimes it is just called colon cancer, for short. Colorectal cancer affects men and women of all racial and ethnic groups, and is most often found in people aged 50 or older.

A screening colonoscopy can detect any precancerous polyps – or abnormal growths in the colon or rectum – so that they can be removed before turning into cancer. Screening also helps find colorectal cancer at an early stage, when treatment often leads to a cure, and due to its status as a preventive healthcare measure, first time screening colonoscopies are often covered well by most insurance companies and Medicare. You are encouraged to contact your health insurance provider for any questions about coverage for the procedure before scheduling one.

A colonoscopy is a quick and easy outpatient procedure which uses a colonoscope that allows a specially-trained physician to look at the inner lining of your large intestines, identifying any polyps. The process usually only takes about 30-60 minutes to complete, and only occasionally causes a small degree of discomfort; complications or risks are extremely rare, and quite minimal when compared with those of colon cancer.

Patients should discuss the benefits, risks, and any concerns about a screening colonoscopy with their primary care provider first. A primary care provider can assist with making a referral to a specialist for the outpatient procedure. Or, you can schedule one directly with any of the general surgeons at Fort HealthCare Surgical Associates at (920) 563-7900 or by contacting the office of Dr. James Wishau at the Fort HealthCare Lake Mills at (920) 648-8393. All screening colonoscopy procedures take place at Fort Memorial Hospital in Fort Atkinson with any of these providers. To learn more, visit

Fort HealthCare is committed to improving the health and well-being of our communities, with a vision to be the healthiest community in Wisconsin. As the leading healthcare provider in the region, it is our goal to reach as many members of the community as possible with health and wellness messages, providing tools and resources to help individuals improve their health and quality of life, while collaborating with several partners to positively improve the population’s health overall on a long term basis. For more information, visit